About Steven Blair

Steven N. Blair is a Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Blair is a Fellow in the American College of Epidemiology, Society for Behavioral Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, and National Academy of Kinesiology; and was elected to membership in the American Epidemiological Society.

Dr. Blair is the recipient of three honorary doctoral degrees--Doctor Honoris Causa degree from the Free University of Brussels, Belgium; Doctor of Health Science degree from Lander University, U.S.; and Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, University of Bristol, UK.

He has received awards from many professional associations, including the Honor Award from the American College of Sports Medicine, the Population Science Research Award from the American Heart Association, and the Stunkard Lifetime Achievement Award from The Obesity society.  He also was granted a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, and is one of the few individuals outside the U.S. Public Health Service to be awarded the Surgeon General's Medallion.  He has published over 650 papers and chapters in the scientific literature, and is one of the most highly cited exercise scientists, with over 42,000 citations to his work.

About his topic:

Sedentary habits are highly prevalent in most countries of the world.  In the U.S. approximately 25-35% of adults are inactive, meaning that they have sedentary jobs, no regular physical activity program, and are generally sedentary around the house and yard.  Given that sedentary and unfit individuals are at approximately two-fold higher risk for many health conditions than those who are moderately active and fit, the population attributable risk (PAR) of inactivity is high.  In the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS) the PAR for low fitness in more than 50,000 women and men followed for many years is 16-17% of deaths.  This is far higher than other putative risk factors for mortality. 

For example, obesity accounts for 2-3% of deaths in this cohort. Another example from the ACLS is that in 3,293 obese men (BMI ³30.0), 27% of the deaths might have been avoided if none of the men had prevalent cardiovascular disease at baseline whereas 44% of the deaths might have been avoided if none of the men had been unfit. The independent relative risks for death are comparable for prevalent cardiovascular disease (RR=2.4) and for low fitness (RR=2.3).  Over the past few decades we have largely engineered the need for physical activity at home, on the job, and during leisure-time out of the daily lives of most people in industrialized societies. To address the major public health problem of physical inactivity we will need to consider and evaluate societal, environmental, and individual approaches to making physical activity more common for more people more of the time.