At the start of a new year many people’s thoughts turn to exercise and fitness after the over-indulgence of Christmas, so here are some of the items in the School's Archive relating to the physician and epidemiologist Jerry Morris, who is most well-known for publicising the importance of exercise in preventing disease, and whose biography has recently been made available at The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Morris studied for a diploma at the School in 1946 and returned in 1967 as a professor of public health. He formally retired in 1978, but continued to work at the School for many years as an emeritus professor and honorary research fellow. After his death in 2009 he is fondly remembered by many colleagues.
Morris is remembered for his work on heart disease, and particularly its prevention through exercise. In 1953 he published a paper in The Lancet, ‘Coronary heart-disease and physical activity of work’, which examined the incidence of heart disease among busmen working on London's double-decker buses, and demonstrated that the active, stair-climbing conductors had a much lower risk of heart disease than sedentary drivers.
However, it was only when similar figures for postal workers were achieved that Jerry was convinced in his findings. In 1953 Morris’s research was met with some scepticism but it eventually came to mark a turning point in our understanding of the causal factors behind ill-health and early death.
Morris's work included being the consultant editor on this series of leaftlets produced by the Health Education Council in 1979 in association with a BBC television series. Image ©The Health Education Council
The LSHTM archive holds a collection of the papers of Jerry Morris. Please see the Archives website for further information.