is a discipline that studies the
application of scientific
and techniques with the aim of improving sporting
performance. Human movement
is a related
scientific discipline that studies human movement in all contexts
including that of sport.
The study of sports science traditionally incorporates areas of
also includes other topics such as nutrition
, anthropometry kinanthropometry
and performance analysis
Sports scientists and performance consultants are growing in demand
and employment numbers, with the ever-increasing focus within the
sporting world on achieving the best results possible. Through the
study of science and sport, researchers have developed a greater
understanding on how the human body reacts to exercise, training,
different environments and many other stimuli.
Origins of exercise physiology
The origins of exercise physiology are traced back to the early
Greek physicians. Such as the noted ancient Greek physician
(131-201) who wrote 87 detailed essays
about improving health (proper nutrition), aerobic fitness, and
strengthening muscles. Assyrian Hunayn
translated Galen’s work, along with that of Hippocrates
, into Arabic which lead to the
spread of Greek physiology throughout the Middle East and Europe.
Between 776 B.C to 393 A.D, the ancient Greek physicians planned
the training regimens and diets of the Olympic competitors, which
developed many principles still used today.
New ideas upon the working and functioning of the human body
emerged during the renaissance as anatomists and physicians
challenged the previously known theories. These spread with the
implementation of the printed word, the result of Gutenberg
's printing press in the 15th
century. Allied with this was a large increase in academia in
general, universities were forming all around the world.
Importantly these new scholars went beyond the simplistic notions
of the early Greek physicians, and shed light upon the complexities
of the circulatory, and digestive systems. Furthermore by the
middle of the 19th century early medical schools (such as the
School, formed 1782) began appearing in the United States,
whose graduates went on to assume positions of importance in
academia and allied medical research.
Medical journal publications in the United States increased
tremendously during this period. In conjunction the developments in
America were also continuing across Europe. In 1898, three articles
on physical activity appeared in the first volume of the
American Journal of Physiology
. Other articles and reviews
subsequently appeared in prestigious journals. The German applied
physiology publication, Internationale Zeitschrift fur
Phsyiologie einschliesslich Arbeitphysiologie
know as the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational
Physiology), became a significant journal in the field of
From this period to the modern day, a number of key figures have
moulded the field into what it is today. Below is a selection of
just a few of these:
Noted Exercise Physiologists
Austin Flint, Jr
of the first American pioneer physicians, studied physiological
responses to exercise in his influential medical textbooks.
Edward Hitchcock, Jr
(1828-1911)Amherst College Professor of hygiene and physical
education, devoted his academic career to the scientific study of
physical exercise ,training and the body. Coauthored 1860 text on
George Wells Fitz, M.D.
(1860-1934)Created the first departmental major in Anatomy,
Physiology, and Physical Training at Harvard University in
(1874-1949)Won the 1920
Nobel prize in physiology for discovering the mechanism that
controlled capillary blood flow in resting or active muscle.
Per-Olof Astrand (1922-)Professor at the Department of physiology,
Wrote seminal paper which
evaluated the physical working capacity of men and women aged 4–33
years. He was propelled to the forefront of experimental exercise
physiology and achieved worldwide fame.
The study of sport science
Higher-education degrees in sports science or human physiology are
also becoming increasingly popular with many universities now
offering both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the
discipline. Opportunities for graduates in these fields include
employment as a physical education
, performance analyst, sports coach
, sports therapist, fitness center
manager, sports administrator, strength and conditioning specialist
or retail manager of a sports store. Graduates may also be well
positioned to undertake further training to become an accredited
physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or clinical exercise
There are many noted institutions in the United Kingdom which run
course in sport and exercise sciences. The most distinguished
are located at Leeds, Loughborough, Exeter, Bath, Birmingham and Heriot-Watt.