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“Physical Inactivity - Biggest Public Health Problem in the 21st Century” -- Health Expert Dr. Steven Blair

“Physical Inactivity - Biggest Public Health Problem in the 21st Century” -- Health Expert Dr. Steven Blair

SILVER SPRING, MD – March 11, 2014 – Five years ago, Dr. Steven Blair stated that “physical inactivity is the biggest public health problem in the 21st Century.”  Since then, nobody has provided research evidence to refute the claim by Blair, who is a professor of the departments of exercise science and epidemiology/biostatistics at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

After speaking with PHIT America, Dr. Blair is convinced his statement remains as accurate now as it was five yearsS Blair ago when it appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. “There was a higher percentage of deaths in our research population the U.S. due to inactivity than from smoking, obesity, and diabetes combined,” states Blair.

Blair acknowledges that America must get active if the status quo is going to change. “I come from the P.E. establishment.  We need physical education in our schools,” proclaims Dr. Blair.  “But the model for PE needs to change so that we are teaching cognitive and behavioral strategies to help people become and stay more physically active.”

Blair is encouraged by the work of PHIT America, its mission, and its goals. “I endorse PHIT America’s three core strategies to help Get America Moving:  education, grassroots support, and advocacy,” states Dr. Blair.

Dr. Blair says positive changes in the U.S. have taken place.  “We now have a U.S. National Physical Activity Plan that is a comprehensive set policies, programs, and initiatives that aim to increase physical activity in all segments of the American population,” says Dr. Blair.  “Also, companies such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Master Foods understand the issue and communities such as Wheeling, West Virginia have put a program in place, Wheeling Walks, which encourages its residents to exercise on a regular basis.”

Blair feels that both corporate America and the medical profession can play a role in increasing physical activity levels of all Americans. “Health promotion programs in the workplace are a necessity,” declares Blair.  “It befuddles me why more companies don’t understand the value of getting employees active and fit.  And, all medical doctors should get exercise on the agendas for their patients.”

Dr. Blair, who turns 75 this summer, applauds the work of PHIT America because its message is the same one that he has been preaching for more than 40 years.  Dr. Blair, who wears an accelerometer every day, practices what he preaches, as he walks an average more than 13,600 steps a day…..and has been doing so for that last five years.  Since turning 70, his yearly goal has been to take at least five million steps a year.  It’s a goal that he has exceeded every year since becoming a septuagenarian!

Another factor which contributes to inactivity is the fact that energy expenditures are down in all areas of everyday life.  “Because of so many modern conveniences, we have been engineering energy expenditures out of life,” says Dr. Blair.  “For instance, because of so many desk jobs, occupational energy expenditures are down, as are household and transportation energy expenditures.  The number of students who ride a bike or walk to school has decreased dramatically.  And household energy expenditures have dropped, too.”

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