2023 Census about Italy: the sleepwalking

Some economic and social processes, largely predictable in their effects, seem to have been removed from the country’s collective agenda, or at least underestimated. Although their impact will be disruptive to the system’s resilience, the ignorance in the face of ominous signs translates into a culpable indecisiveness. Italian society appears to be afflicted by a widespread state of sleepwalking, plunged into a deep slumber of rational calculation necessary to tackle long-term structural dynamics with potentially disastrous effects.

By 2050, in less than thirty years, Italy will have lost a total of 4.5 million residents (as if the two largest Italian cities, Rome and Milan together, disappeared). This figure will result from a decrease of 9.1 million people under the age of 65 (including a decline of 3.7 million under 35) and an increase of 4.6 million people aged 65 and above (with an additional 1.6 million aged 85 and above) (table 1).

Currently, women of childbearing age (conventionally, the female population aged 15-49) number 11.6 million; by 2050, they will decrease by more than 2 million, creating an insurmountable objective constraint for any attempt to reverse the decline in birth rates in the short term.

Nearly 8 million fewer individuals of working age are estimated for 2050: a scarcity of laborers that will inevitably impact the cost structure of the production system and the capacity to generate value in the industrial and service sectors.

Even the sustainability of the welfare system raises concerns: by 2050, public healthcare spending would amount to 177 billion euros, compared to today’s 131 billion.

In the face of these ominous signs, public debate stagnates, and the calmness of some cyclical indicators is insufficient to set sail for open waters. Sleepwalking as a hallmark of collective reactions to these signs is not solely attributable to the ruling classes but is a phenomenon widespread in the “silent majority” of Italians:

They have become more fragile due to identity and political disarmament, to the extent that 56.0% (61.4% among the young) feel they have little importance in society. They are wounded by a profound sense of powerlessness, with 60.8% (65.3% among the young) experiencing significant insecurity due to various unexpected risks. They are disillusioned by the historical cycle of globalization, with 69.3% believing that it has brought more harm than benefits to Italy. They are resigned to a national downsizing destiny, with 80.1% convinced that Italy has emerged from past emergencies in decline (rising to 84.1% among the young).

The Youth

The existential gap between today’s youth and preceding generations seems immense. The social elevator that historically ensured a better life transition between generations has stalled. They have witnessed the shattering of the progress myth as an unstoppable growth of the economy and consumption, replaced now by the awareness of the need for lifestyles more respectful of the environment. Their social positioning appears dictated by their more or less close and functional relationship with digital devices and platforms.

Today, in our country, those aged 18-34 are just over 10 million, accounting for 17.5% of the population; in 2003, they exceeded 13 million, representing 23.0% of the total. In twenty years, we have lost almost 3 million young individuals. The forecasts for the future are strongly negative: by 2050, those aged 18-34 will be just over 8 million, barely 15.2% of the total population.

The youth are few, express a slight demographic weight, and thus inevitably have little influence.

60.6% of young people aged 18 to 34 declare that if they could, they would leave Italy. From 2012 to 2021, 336,592 young people aged 25-34 moved abroad. 1.7 million young people aged 15 to 29 (19.8% of the total) neither work nor study, ranking second only to Romania.

Interest in the football matches does not exceed 30 minutes

The football matches don’t last 90 minutes anymore, nor even 45. The highlight generation has taken control of the remote and is replacing it with their smartphones. The fact is that people are connecting for increasingly shorter periods; the entire event remains the domain of old nostalgics.

The audience’s attention for football lasts for 35 minutes. This is the time the average Italian fan dedicates to Serie A matches. The issue is global.

The essence of this data is that a match is no longer a sporting event to be followed to understand its unfolding, to know the teams’ play and their countermeasures against opponents. The match is perceived as an event with exciting moments that should be watched to fuel this mood but are immersed in a perceived state of boredom and lack of motivation to keep attention for the full 90 minutes.

This condition explains much of the current mindset of an important segment of young adults for whom sporting spectacles are only worth watching if they are thrilling; otherwise, they shift focus to other events. These data indicate that activities worth engaging in are those considered thrilling, and interest is no longer directed toward the sporting performance but rather towards the aspects that trigger these emotions.

The match thus becomes a means to satisfy the need for experiencing emotions and loses its intrinsic value of a challenge between two ways of playing, where the referee, audience, and the match’s value for the two teams are no longer considered but become accessories that can enhance the emotional moments of a match.

These effects caused by the use of portable devices such as smartwatches will certainly not change the strategies of companies selling matches. On the contrary, these companies will probably be proud to have engaged a greater number of young adults who would have never watched an entire match but can now do so through new platforms and thus subscribe, boosting the business of companies in this sector.

Three American climbers solve the ‘Last Great Problem in the Himalayas

Limits are made to be broken. There are no competitions in the mountains, but there are walls to climb that no one has ever explored.

One of these involves the ipresa of U.S. mountaineers Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau made an alpine-style ascent of the immense, stunning north face of the Jannu, Nepalese Himalaya. The seven-day ascent was unabashedly called “visionary” and “perhaps the best alpine-style ascent in decades.”

The team began climbing the 7710-meter mountain early in the morning of Oct. 7 and reached the summit on the 12th. An additional bivouac was required before descending to base camp, rappelling near the ascent line, the next day. The last 200 meters are in common with the SO Ridge route, while other sections are in common with the Russian Direct, opened in capsule style and using fixed ropes in 2004 by a determined Russian expedition led by Alexander Odintsov.

The new route is called Round Trip Ticket and in its 2,700 meters exceeds difficulties estimated around M7 AI5+ A0. Writing on his Instagram profile, Rousseau explained, “The steepest and most difficult section was from 7,000 to 7,500 meters. This recessed part of the north face has never been climbed before. This is where we experienced some of the most intensely wonderful mixed pitches we have all had the pleasure of climbing before.” Success now comes after 2 previous failed attempts, the first by Marvell and Rousseau in 2021, the second by Cornell and Rousseau in 2022.

Cornell, Marvell, and Rousseau, who have previously climbed big routes together such as Aim for the bushes on the east face of Mount Dickey in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge, dug deep into their experience to climb the mountain. Cornell said they had been “consumed by climbing, we lost the meaning of individuality.”

(Source: https://www.planetmountain.com/it/notizie/alpinismo/jannu-parete-nord-salita-stile-alpino-matt-cornell-jackson-marvell-alan-rousseau.html)

Mazzarri and Napoli cohesion

We start with a basic idea, and that is that a team’s performance is most effective if there is agreement on goals and the means to achieve them. This finding is a fundamental part of the concept of cohesion, which is the dynamic process that reflects a team’s tendency to stick together and remain united in pursuit of its goals. Lack of cohesion, in my opinion, has been the problem that Napoli has manifested during Rudi Garcia’s management.

This is because one of the most common problems that occurs in teams when the coach’s goals do not match the team’s goals. Garcia has also failed to find effective ways of communication to get his proposals accepted. It should be obvious how necessary it is for the members of a team to identify with the goals of the coach otherwise what happened happens: the team loses confidence and the coach is exonerated

Mazzarri was faced with a situation in which the players were not satisfied with the role they played in the team, they had lost confidence in the strength of the group, and the negative results were confirming and worsening these negative moods.Garcia’s approach did not include discussion on these issues, which is necessary to manage a team in a winning way. If asked,

I would suggest that Mazzarri introduce moments of discussion on the same issues. It can be concluded that although various approaches can be used to convince individuals of the worthiness of the proposed goals, a system centered on team enhancement will certainly be very effective. In this way, a positive relationship is built between individual motivation and commitment, leading to effective performance and a consequent positive perception of the value of individual contribution to collective work.

Trends in media uses among the young

Twenge, J. M., Martin, G. N., & Spitzberg, B. H. (2019). Trends in U.S. Adolescents’ Media Use, 1976–2016: The Rise of Digital Media, the Decline of TV, and the (Near) Demise of PrintPsychology of Popular Media Culture8(4), 329–345.

Studies have produced conflicting results about whether digital media (the Internet, texting, social media, and gaming) displace or complement use of older legacy media (print media such as books, magazines, and newspapers; TV; and movies). Here, we examine generational/time period trends in media use in nationally representative samples of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in the United States, 1976–2016 (N.1021,209; 51% female).

Digital media use has increased considerably, with the average 12th grader in 2016 spending more than twice as much time online as in 2006, and with time online, texting, and on social media totaling to about 6 hr a day by 2016. Whereas only half of 12th graders visited social media sites almost every day in 2008, 82% did by 2016. At the same time, iGen adolescents in the 2010s spent significantly less time on print media, TV, or movies compared with adolescents in previous decades.

The percentage of 12th graders who read a book or a magazine every day declined from 60% in the late 1970s to 16% by 2016, and 8th graders spent almost an hour less time watching TV in 2016 compared with the early 1990s. Trends were fairly uniform across gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

The rapid adoption of digital media since the 2000s has displaced the consumption of legacy media.

Words in movement

I am pleased to publish a friend’s, Massimo Oliveri - novel writer,  physical education teacher and physical coach of Italian tennis table team – contribution on the education of young people.

One should never forget that among the most important elements that convey the emotional component of the human soul, words remain the ‘tool’ with the most complex and delicate weight. It is through words (which distinguish human beings from all other creatures) that physicality is almost unconsciously fueled in its crudest and most brutal forms, as words are indeed an expression of inner emotions. When used improperly, it leads to relational modes that inherently drive violent and inhumane actions.

The EMOTIONAL individual speaks and authorizes oneself to act within the circuit of violence: emotions become physicality, and the emotional language of distress emerges as the source of cruelty, oppression, offense, abuse, and tyranny. The body is the fundamental and constitutive element of the Self; one cannot conceive of a corporeal Self separate from a psychological Self, as both are part of the individual and constantly interact.

The individual is constituted by a continuous flow of information that defines bodily awareness and image, which becomes the structure of the Self and, therefore, the individual. The Self cannot exist without sensory information from the body; without them and their subsequent processing, the irreplaceable sensation of being in the world, of being present, would be lacking because the body is the expressive tool through which the Self realizes itself.

Each part of one’s motor experience contributes to the formation of self-awareness. Thus, when there is dissociation or simply a lack of awareness of one’s own image, it reflects on the individual’s personality, leading to varying degrees of emotional disturbance that can even result in violent behavior.

Expressing an emotion, a behavior, or distress, on the contrary, releases the tension produced in our physical sphere, allowing it to regain its peaceful dimension and increase the psychophysical energy and well-being of the person.

The perception of who we are, our psychophysical well-being or malaise, derives from a constant exchange of information between the mind and the body as each is a consequence of the other in a continuous, reciprocal conditioning.

Understanding, listening, and interpreting not only our thoughts but also bodily sensations and movements largely contribute to understanding what we are and what we would like to be.

Therefore, the body should no longer be considered a part of the individual to mortify for the exaltation of the spirit, nor should it be connected to the mind with a negative bias. Instead, it is the condition of being in the world, a primary value of existence, a refined instrument that has contributed to the civil progress of society. The living body is a complete structure that pulsates and moves; engaging in purposeful motor activities means using a specific language, enabling the expression of individual interiority, realizing one’s communicative intentions, and interacting with others.

In this increasing intention, the connection of motor skills with the acquisition of abilities related to gestural and mimetic communication, dramatization through the relationship between movements and emotions to enhance expressive sensitivity, and the use of breathing in managing emotional behaviors become fundamental elements in attempting to gain control over our emotional relationships.

The young practitioner is guided to recognize, in situations of emotional stress, those components of movement organization that would enable better interaction with conflicts, anxiety states, and violent outbursts. The student recognizes how the control and transformation of the executive component of movement are expressed, and through this competence, derives an additional element of interpretation of what happens in daily life.

However, what I am discussing is not the participation in sports or environments that stimulate federal or group competitions, but rather the search for a space where it is possible to experiment with individual physical skills, with absolute respect for one’s basic motor capabilities, without any competitive orientation of ‘they don’t let me play’ or even ‘I wasn’t selected’.

Sports perceived as a source of conflict or intimidation of one’s personality to emerge and dominate over others have no possibility of being convivial, contrary to an ethical interpretation, albeit competitive, but with expressions preferably directed towards improving one’s motor skills, in absolute respect for each individual and their opponent’s sports performance.

Therefore, merely attending gyms or sports clubs is not enough to tap into what movement could do to consolidate the characteristics of our personality, recognizing it, and directing it towards behaviors dictated by good coexistence and common sense.

The contents of motor messages should instead aim to consolidate those four coordinative areas related to praxic-motor organization, verifying and encouraging those small or significant movement disharmonies governed by the body schema, from the consolidation of balance, to the recognition of hand-eye coordination, to the transformation of space-time management, and orientation through identifying one’s own laterality.

In conclusion, we can say that moving and planning an action in the form of a finalizing sequential organization make it plausible to improve the ability to face situations of emotional conflict or psycho-social interaction. This requires the use of a motor-conceptual axis and mastery of one’s body for the consolidation of an active personality, for those who can and want it, now.



Sport role in multiple sclerosis

If you are interested in learning more about the role of sports in patients with multiple sclerosis, you can read this summary article on this topic.

Donze, Cecile1; Massot, Caroline MD1; Hautecoeur, Patrick2; Cattoir-Vue, Helene1; Guyot, Marc-Alexandre1. The Practice of Sport in Multiple Sclerosis: Update. Current Sports Medicine Reports 16(4):p 274-279, 7/8 2017.

The practice of sport by multiple sclerosis patients has long been controversial. Recent studies, however, show that both sport and physical activity are essential for these patients. Indeed, they help to cope with the effects of multiple sclerosis, such as fatigue, reduced endurance, loss of muscle mass, and reduction of muscle strength. The beneficial effects of physical activity on these patients have been underlined in several studies, whereas those of practicing sport have been the subject of fewer evaluations and assessments. The aim of this update is to report on the effects of sport on multiple sclerosis patients. The benefits of sport have been demonstrated in several studies. It helps multiple sclerosis patients to increase their balance, resistance to fatigue, mobility and quality of life. Several biases in these studies do not enable us to recommend the practice of some of these sports on a routine basis.

Table tennis fights the multiple sclerosis

Antonio Barbera, an Italian doctor living in the United States for over two decades, faced a significant life shift when he experienced two episodes of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), causing severe physical impairments. MS is a neurodegenerative condition affecting the central nervous system, leading to damage to nerve fibers’ protective sheath (myelin) and nerve cells.

After battling the aftermath of MS attacks, BARBERA noticed that playing table tennis (TT) seemed to alleviate one of his “invisible symptoms”—a constant sense of chest tightness. Inspired by this personal revelation, he delved into research to explore the potential benefits of TT for individuals with neurodegenerative conditions like MS, Parkinson’s (PD), and Alzheimer’s (AD).

Antonio founded the non-profit organization Table Tennis Connections, aiming to raise awareness about TT’s multitude of benefits. He initiated the NeuroPongTM Project, a TT program tailored for people with neurodegenerative conditions. Antonio’s objective is not only to promote the physical, emotional, and social advantages of TT but also to scientifically support its efficacy in aiding brain functionality.

Understanding the concept of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new cells and connections through proper training, Antonio aims to utilize TT as a tool to enhance the cognitive abilities of those with neurodegenerative conditions. The NeuroPongTM Project has taken root in various locations in the United States, collaborating with medical institutions and Memory Care centers.

Expanding the project globally, Antonio brought it to Italy in collaboration with the Mondino Foundation and the ASD TT 2009 Association. A research protocol on the benefits of TT for individuals with MS was established, involving local medical professionals and TT enthusiasts. Dr. Barbera’s collaboration with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Foundation further underscores the scientific backing of his project.

Presenting his findings at the first World Congress TT4 Health Congress in Crete, Greece, organized by the ITTF Foundation, Antonio showed the positive effects of TT on individuals living with PD. Another protocol focusing on participants with AD is set to commence in Colorado.

The NeuroPongTM Project aspires to engage more European locations, fostering collaboration between healthcare providers, TT clubs, and local communities to promote the holistic benefits of this remarkable sport.

Empowering Healthy Aging

he World Health Organization (WHO) has published a comprehensive toolkit aimed at catalyzing action to promote physical activity among older adults. This initiative is part of a broader series designed to assist countries in crafting and executing policies to increase population participation in physical activity. Aligned with the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) 2018–2030 and the ACTIVE technical package, this toolkit focuses on interventions that can be delivered through primary health and community care services. Its strategic design also supports the objectives of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030).

The development of this toolkit was a collaborative endeavor, drawing upon the collective wisdom and expertise of global leaders in health, ageing, and physical activity. It consolidates evidence-based strategies aimed at enhancing physical activity among older adults, with a range of case study examples of what this could look like in practice.

At its core, this toolkit seeks to empower nations to proactively address the challenges posed by an ageing demographic. By fostering physical activity among older adults, countries can positively impact health outcomes, enhance quality of life and physical function, and mitigate the burden of chronic disease. The toolkit provides a roadmap for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and community leaders to design, implement, and evaluate interventions tailored to the unique needs of their ageing populations.

The toolkit details three key activities needed to support and promote physical activity among older people: 1. educating and encouraging – communicating why physical activity is important; 2. engaging and supporting – ensuring physical activity programmes and services meet the needs of older people; 3. enabling every day – ensuring that environments where older people live, work and socialise support physical activity.

The toolkit describes five enabling factors that underpin effective and sustainable provision of physical activity opportunities for older people. These include: 1. governance, leadership and finance; 2. advocacy; 3. partnerships and community links; 4. training; 5. monitoring and evaluation.

To members of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), we see this toolkit as a catalyst for furthering your commitment to global physical activity promotion. We hope you will embrace the insights provided to inform your advocacy efforts, guide your research pursuits, and strengthen collaborative initiatives. By integrating these evidence-based strategies into your work, you are pivotal in contributing to the realisation of GAPPA’s objectives and the broader vision of fostering active and healthy ageing worldwide.

This toolkit supports a future where older adults can not only live longer but live in better health. It provides the tools, the guidance, and the inspiration to pave the way for positive change, redefining what it means to age with grace, health, and vibrancy. As we share this resource with the global community, let us all commit to championing the cause of healthy ageing, confident in our collective ability to create a world where older age brings vitality, resilience, and the joy of physical activity.

To explore the toolkit and access additional resources, visit the WHO website or ISPAH website.

The main goal is living to be and not to have

“Living to be or living to have are two existential modes based on opposing ideas. Living to be is what Sinner, Bagnaia, and their companions have demonstrated, striving to be the best version of themselves to achieve their ultimate goals. Living to have is the hallmark of those who seek possession, whether it be things or people, and when this deep-seated need isn’t fulfilled, it transforms frustration into destructive anger towards loved ones, as the murderer of Giulia Cecchettin did. As her sister Elena wrote, he ‘was not educated about consent, respect, and freedom of choice.’

To Have or to Be is the title of a book by Erich Fromm published in 1976, which described, with these two words, two opposing ways of living. The approach to everyday life based on ‘having’ characterizes those who have a possessive relationship with their world, aiming to seize things and people. Their motto is summarized in the phrase: ‘I am what I possess.’ The existential mode of those who live according to the ‘being’ approach stands in opposition, defining themselves by their actions, encapsulated in the phrase: ‘I am what I do.’ Following this mode, daily experience is never the same, and the present contains the past and anticipates the future.

In these days, the enthusiasm these young champions have stirred around their achievements and the consequent massive public exposure they’ve received are examples of the strong need for identification that everyone, adults and youth alike, harbors towards young, positive figures who convey spontaneity through their actions, despite performing at an exceptional level. The country needs examples to look up to, especially because these young champions are not alone; alongside them are many others, men and women, who work or study, equally talented, living with an existential mode centered on ‘being,’ yet they lack the visibility of our young champions. These winning youngsters shed light on these lifestyles centered on self-realization and a sense of belonging. The message is clear: even if you’re a talent, you can’t win alone. As Michael Jordan said, ‘One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.’

Sinner and Bagnaia don’t feel alone; they’re aware they’ve grown thanks to the team—that’s how champions flourish. Emanuela Audisio rightly says that while discussing ‘immature, violent, ill-equipped Italian kids, not accustomed to defeats, frustrations, lacking respect,’ perhaps attention should also be given to this aspect of sports. Let’s talk about how these youngsters have grown, who their mentors have been, how they’ve learned from mistakes, and how they’ve developed a team mentality even in individual sports. Let’s discuss and get to know all those other young individuals, and there are many, boys and girls, whose stories don’t make it to the media, who aren’t famous but pursue personal goals of self-realization that are important to them. Let’s give them a voice too. Otherwise, a narrative of this youth as insecure, spoiled, and enslaved by social media will continue to spread.”