BIO 192


A Brief History of Exercise Science


I.  Exercise:  Early observations

1.  Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.)

“if we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health

2.  Galen (A.D. 129-210)

“those movements which do not alter respiration are not called exercise”

3.  A. Cornelius Celsus (ca.10-60)

“take exercise: for whilst inaction weakens the body, work strengthens it; the former brings on premature old age, the latter prolongs youth”

4.  Hieronymus Mercuralis (1530-1606)

“exercise is deliberate and planned movement of the human frame, accompanied by breathlessness, and undertaken for the sake of health or fitness…”


II.  Exercise Science at the start of the 20th Century

1.  Lagrange 1890 “Physiology of Bodily Exercise” – not much scientific content

2.  Wolff’s Law of Bone Transformation

3.  Muscle size increases via increased diameter of muscle fibers not increase in fiber number

4.  Revival of the Olympic Games, formation of the IOC 1894

5.  Atwater and Bryant (1900) - crew team - diet 15.6% protein, 40.7% fat, 44.2% carbos, ~4085 Kcal/day

6.  Dudley Sargent, MD

- Director of Hemenway Gymnasium at Harvard University 1879-1919

    - Exercise testing and prescription

    - Taught class in applied anatomy


III.  Experiments in Europe at the start of the 20th Century

A.  August Krogh (1874-1949) Denmark

            1.  Bohr Effect on Hemoglobin

            2.  Passive diffusion of O2 at lung

            3.  Fat as fuel during exercise

            4.  Capillary physiology – Nobel Prize, 1920

            5.  Synthesis of insulin for treatment of diabetes


B.  A.V. Hill and Otto Meyerhoff

            1.  Production of heat by exercising muscle

            2.  Glycolytic metabolism

            3.  Reconversion of lactate to carbohydrate in the presence of oxygen

            4.  Nobel Prize, 1922


C.  Renewed interest in the United States – Early 20th Century

1.  Failure of WWI & WWII military recruits to pass physical exams

2.  Organization of the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory (1927-1947)

-  Established in the School of Business Administration in 1927

-  Publication of over 50 papers on exercise

-  Topics such as:

u  Aging and exercise capacity

u  Exercise at altitude

u  Exercise in heat

u  Maximal heart rate

u  Estimation and measurement of maximal oxygen consumption


III.  Exercise Science in the middle of the 20th Century – Some misconceptions

1.  In the 1930’s and 40’s it was believed that weight training would slow an athlete and most athletic coaches banned weight training

2.  In the 30’s and 40’s high volume endurance training was thought to be bad for the heart

3.  Through the 50’s and even 60’s, exercise was not thought to be useful in older people and endurance exercise was thought to be harmful to women


IV.  Experiments in the second half of the 20th Century

A.  Advances in Biochemistry - Hans A. Krebs and Fritz Lipmann (Germany, UK, USA)

            1.  Citric Acid or “Krebs” cycle

            2.  CoEnzyme A

            3.  Nobel Prize, 1953


B.  Muscle Biopsies and Fiber Typing (Gollnick and others)


V. New ideas and organizations - second half of 20th C

1.  Journal of Applied Physiology - 1948

2.  National Athletic Trainer’s Assoc. – 1950

3.  American College of Sports Medicine – 1954, MSSE Journal in 1969

4.  President’s Council on Youth Fitness – 1955

5.  Overload principle to increase muscular strength – 1950’s

6.  Increased use of maximal oxygen consumption testing for training athletes

7.  “Scientific Principles of Coaching” Bunn 1955


VI.  Increased recognition of the role of exercise in maintaining health

1.  Thomas Cureton, former swim coach, wrote and gave seminars on the importance of fitness for health

2.  Link between sedentary life style and heart disease – Kraus and Rabb

3. “Hypokinetic Diesase – Diseases Produced by Lack of Exercise” 1961

4. “Prevention of Ischemic Heart Disease” Rabb 1966

5.  Rise of aerobics and jogging – “Aerobics” K. Cooper 1968


VII.  Exercise Science in the last 30 years

1.  Bruno Balke and ACSM certifications – 1970’s

2.  Inclusion of women’s 3 km and marathon in Olympic Games – 1984

3.  Inclusion of women and older people in scientific studies

4.  Increasing use of cellular and molecular biology in exercise science


VIII.  Exercise Science in the 21st Century

1.  Shift in emphasis from “performance testing” to fitness testing and physical activity for health

2.  Healthy People 2000

Increase to at least 20% the proportion of children and adolescents aged 6-17 who engage in vigorous physical activity > 3 days/week for >20 minutes/session

3.  Healthy People 2010

Increase the proportion of adults who engage regularly, preferably daily, in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day.