Retired professor links low physical activity to health problems

Steven N. Blair, retired professor in the Department of Exercise Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Arnold School of Public Health, lectures about the importance of activity in daily life in Forum Hall on Oct. 17, 2017. This lecture was given as a part of the Distinguished Lecture Series in Kinesiology. (Photo by Regan Tokos | Collegian Media Group)

The kinesiology department hosted a seminar titled “Physical Inactivity: The Biggest Public Health Problem of the 21st Century” in Forum Hall on Tuesday. Retired exercise science, epidemiology and biostatistics professor Steve Blair spoke at the event.

Blair said he believes physical activity and exercise are essential to living a full and healthy lifestyle, and a lack of exercise is the cause of some of the biggest health problems in the country.

Blair formerly was the president of the American College of Sports Medicine, National Academy of Kinesiology and the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity. Blair has spent a great majority his life conducting case studies to understand physical activity and its relationship with physical and mental health.

“Patients’ mobility is better,” Blair said. “Their mood is affected. I mean, there are all kinds of benefits, not only affecting heart disease or diabetes, but there is a change in energy to do simple things.”

One of Blair’s studies examined the prevalence of inactivity in connection with higher death rates. The study used advanced cardiovascular life-support technology to show the high prevalence of inactivity worldwide. This study, in conjunction with others, led Blair to believe inactivity, above all else, is the leading cause of poor health.

Another study presented by Blair showed the cause of death for more than 40 thousand men and nearly 13 thousand women, including low cardiorespiratory fitness, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and smoking. The amount of men and women who perished from low cardiorespiratory fitness was significantly higher than any other causes of death.

Will De Noble, sophomore in kinesiology, came out of the seminar with a new understanding of physical health.

“I previously knew how important physical activity was for my health, but now I really can see how much it ways on not only my health, but also my mortality,” De Noble said.

Blair’s physical inactivity seminar was hosted by the Department of Kinesiology and the Kinesiology Student Association as part of Exercise is Medicine on Campus month.

“We are trying to simply increase awareness and to promote physical activity on college campuses because exercise medicine is a natural progression of the department,” said Craig Harms, director of the Department of Kinesiology. “That’s what we do and what our students study.”