As many as 50 million Americans are living sedentary lives, putting them at increased risk of health problems and even early death, a leading expert in exercise science told the American Psychological Association.

Speaking at APA's 117th Annual Convention, Steven Blair, PED, called Americans' physical inactivity "the biggest public health problem of the 21st century."

Blair is a professor of exercise science and epidemiology at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health. He is one of the world's premier experts on exercise and its health benefits and was the senior scientific editor of the 1996 U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health.

Research has shown approximately 25 percent to 35 percent of American adults are inactive, Blair said, 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 in an interview. "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."

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