From bus conductors to the modern Gym: Exercise who needs it?


By Clive Lindley-Jones | April 13, 2010 12:58 pm

As a young sociologist, in an earlier incarnation, I remember reading about Jerry Morris’ original 1949 study into levels of heart disease amongst London bus drivers and conductors. This was in the days when these were two separate jobs, one requiring constant sitting and the other a lot of standing and running up and down stairs.

Today it seems clear to all of us that exercise can help us avoid a number of illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes and obesity related illnesses, but back then the link was un-thought of. Morris’s study; Coronary heart disease and physical activity of work was published in The Lancet in 1953.

Morris was a towering figure in the world of post war epidemiology. His work has had a worldwide impact, and his focus on what is meant by health of the public and how to improve it and the focus on justice and fairness and how to gain a minimum income to achieve health have a wonderful, egalitarian, hopeful and honesty feel about them.  Perhaps more associated with that great war-time generation, than our more spin-saturated, twenty first century, more cynical version.