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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Speaker advises on healthly lifestyle

For a healthier way of life, Dr. Steven Blair has some advice — walk your dog every day, even if you don’t have one. Blair, president/CEO of the Cooper Institute, spoke to a full-house on the issues of lifestyle and health in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union yesterday.

In his speech titled “Physical Inactivity: The Major Public Health Problem of the 21st Century,” Blair cited patterns in data that he has collected over the years that show cardiovascular and muscular fitness to be as powerful a predictor of mortality as age.

The importance of being fit spans across all age demographics, and the consequences — lack of physical abilities — can affect all ages.

“Moderate exercise offers huge benefits,” Blair said. “Cardiovascular and muscle fitness preserve function and independence as you age.”

According to his research, men over 60 years of age who were in the high-fitness category had the same level of loss of physical function as did the 20-year-olds in the low-fitness category.

Blair also drew on information that dispels the myth that “fat” does not necessarily mean “unfit.” The dangers of low fitness apply to all ages and sizes.

“You can’t tell by looking at someone whether they are fit,” Blair said.

According to his research, unfit thin males are five times more likely to die than obese men who are fit.

He has drawn on some criticism from his colleagues that his research provides a convenient excuse for the overweight and obese, but Blair sees it differently.

“I think it is a message of hope and encouragement. Few people lose enough weight to look like models or movie stars but we can all be healthy,” Blair said.

“We live in a toxic environment,” Blair says, but fortunately, people don’t need to do much to get moderate exercise. Getting in three ten-minute walks a day would give you the moderate exercise needed to be healthier according to Blair.

He contends it is not the changes in diet that have produced the obesity epidemic in America today, but rather convenience.

“America has an obesity epidemic because we have engineered a minimum energy expenditure environment,” Blair said.

Living a sedentary lifestyle is a choice for most Americans, not because of a lack of time or other responsibilities. Blair suggests people modify their environments. He suggests, for example, to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or to do shopping at the mall and not on the Internet.

Jody Holland, a physical education major at BGSU, was surprised at some of the revelations in Blair’s research.

“I was surprised that even if you are fat you can still be fit and how much cardiovascular fitness decreased mortality rates,” Holland said.

Heather Gantz, also a physical education major at BGSU, noted that while most college students do get 30 minutes of walking a day, they could do more.

“Turn off your TV’s and XBOX’s and get outside,” Gantz said. “Get off Instant Messenger.”

The Wellness Connection at BGSU offers many services available to students for optimizing their health. The Fitwell Center in the Student Recreation Center also offers fitness testing, programming and personal training. Students are encouraged to contact these organizations for further information.

The President’s Lecture Series 2005 is inviting speakers, including Blair, to talk to the community in support of change for issues concerning the body, mind and spirit. The series was started by President Sidney Ribeau in 1996 to energize debate for issues affecting the campus. Upcoming lectures in March and April will focus on education in regards to progressing social change and buildings as sources of inspiration, respectively.

Blair has received many accolades for work in the field of lifestyle and health, including the Surgeon General’s Medallion. He has had over 300 papers and chapters of scientific literature published.

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