Ralph Paffenbarger, was one of the first epidemiologists to study and provide evidence for the significance of exercise in lowering the risk of cardiovascular mortality (heart disease, etc.). His earliest studies showed that the risk of being sendentary (for example: sitting on your behind and playing computers games in todays parlance) was twice as great as exercising and burning up 2,000+ calories per week.
Ralph himself became a marathoner and ultra-marathoner.
His studies were significant and have had an enormous impact on health and understanding necessary components to living in a healthy manner. Between dietary changes, treatment of lipid and cholesterol abnormalities, blood pressure evaluation, and improvement in exercise routines, heart disease can be significantly reduced. The incidence of heart disease in the United States has decreased incredibly over the past 30 years.
Dr. Paffenbarger’s obituary may be viewed at the New York Times.