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Physical Inactivity: The Biggest Public Health Problem of the 21st Century

The obesity epidemic has received a lot of attention in the past few years. Although obesity is a major issue, physical inactivity may be the more important problem. According to Dr. Steven N. Blair, the importance of physical activity is overlooked and undervalued. Often physical activity is only discussed as a remedy for obesity. Of course regular physical activity helps with weight management, but the activity is very important to an individual’s health, whether or not they lose weight. In fact, a study of men with type 2 diabetes showed that obese men who were moderately/highly fit had less than half the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than the normal-weight men who were unfit.

Research has shown approximately 25 percent to 35 percent of American adults are inactive, meaning that they have sedentary jobs, no regular physical activity program, and are generally inactive around the house or yard. "This amounts to 40 million to 50 million people exposed to the hazard of inactivity," Blair said. "Given that these individuals are doubling their risk of developing numerous health conditions compared with those who are even moderately active and fit, we’re looking at a major public health problem."

In "Physical Inactivity: The Biggest Public Health Problem of the 21st Century", we investigate the health risks associated with physical inactivity and discuss effective, proven methods you can take to encourage people to start—and keep —moving. The webinar was conducted by Dr. Steven N. Blair, respected researcher and speaker specializing in exercise, physical fitness, and chronic disease, and an author of Active Living Every Day. 

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There are no continuing education credits attached to this webinar. For questions, visit

Steven N. Blair, PED, is a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. His research focuses on the associations between lifestyle and health, with a specific emphasis on exercise, physical fitness, body composition, and chronic disease. As one of the most highly cited exercise scientists currently active in research, Dr. Blair has published more than 475 articles, chapters, and books in scientific and professional literature. He also was the senior scientific editor for the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health.

Blair is a fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, Society of Behavioral Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Heart Association, and American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education. He was also elected to membership in the American Epidemiological Society. He was the first president of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity and is a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

The barriers to adopting a healthy lifestyle are as varied and complex as the people trying to overcome them. Active Living Partners (ALP) is dedicated to helping people break through those barriers to improve their health and quality of life. These webinars help fitness centers, worksites, senior residences, community health programs, hospitals, and universities empower people to change their health habits.

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