london bus drivers and conductors

Dr. Morris’s Research



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The Medical Analysis

In the years following the Second World War, heath experts in Britain noticing a sharp rise in heart attack rates.

To find out why, in 1949 scientist Jerry Morris began to analyze the medical condition of workers from different occupations. These included schoolteachers, postal, transport and government workers.

London Double-Decker Buses

The first results Dr. Morris and his team got back were that of the London bus employees. Their data showed that the drivers of double-decker buses had substantially higher cardiovascular disease, adjusted for age, than the conductors, or ticket collectors.

Both bus drivers and conductors earned similar wages and came from the same socio-economic class.

Standing vs. Sitting

The main difference between them was that the drivers sat behind the wheel about 90% of their working day, while the conductors walked up and down the bus aisles, and climbed up and down the stairs joining the upper and lower decks, or about 600 steps in total.

In the 1950s, Dr. Morris extended the study, comparing postal workers who delivered the mail by walking or riding bicycles with the clerks behind the window at the post office and the telephone operators. The results showed that the deliverers had a far lower risk of developing heart disease.

Exercise and Health

Then, in the 1960s, Dr. Morris conducted an eight-year study of the overall physical activity of 18,000 men in sedentary civil service jobs. He found that those who engaged in regular aerobic exercise — fast walking, cycling, swimming or other sports — had half the occurrences of heart attacks than those who did not.

Dr. Morris thus became the first researcher to demonstrate the relationship between physical activity and health.


Jeremy Noah Morris was born in Liverpool on May 6, 1910, into a family of immigrants from Poland.

After attending the University of Glasgow, Dr. Morris completed his medical degree at University College London Hospital in 1934. During World War II, he served in India and Burma with the Royal Army Medical Corps, rising to lieutenant colonel.

In 1948, Dr. Morris was appointed director of the social medicine division of the government-financed Medical Research Council, and joined the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1967. He died in Hampstead, London on October 28, 2009, aged 99.

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1. Everything remained the same after the Second World War. True or false?

2. Did Dr. Jerry Morris conduct autopsies among those who died of coronary disease?

3. Since both London bus drivers and conductors were of the same social class, they had identical health conditions. Is this right or wrong? How did they differ?

4. What was the main difference between them?

5. Was this finding confined to transport workers?

6. Does this mean that sedentary office workers are doomed to premature deaths?

7. Did Dr. Morris have an interesting and varied life?

8. Do you think Dr. Morris practiced what he discovered in his studies?


A. Is cardiovascular disease the major cause of mortality among people?

B. How would you describe the working population of your city?

C. Are people health conscious? Are more people exercising and eating right?

D. What will happen in the future?

E. What advice would you give to people? What should and shouldn’t people do?

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