is a discipline that studies the application of scientific principles
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...
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 physiology
Physiology is the science of the function of living systems. This includes how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells, and bio-molecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. The highest honor awarded in physiology is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or...
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...
, motor control
Motor control are information processing related activities carried out by the central nervous system that organize the musculoskeletal system to create coordinated movements and skilled actions...
Sports biomechanics is a quantitative based study and analysis of professional athletes and sports' activities in general. It can simply be described as the Physics of Sports...
but also includes other topics such as nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....
In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism. Dietary habits are the habitual decisions an individual or culture makes when choosing what foods to eat. With the word diet, it is often implied the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management...
, sports technology, anthropometry
Anthropometry refers to the measurement of the human individual...
Kinanthropometry is defined as the study of human size, shape, proportion,composition, maturation, and gross function, in order to understand growth,exercise, performance, and nutrition....
, and performance analysis
In software engineering, profiling is a form of dynamic program analysis that measures, for example, the usage of memory, the usage of particular instructions, or frequency and duration of function calls...
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
Sports science can trace its origins to ancient Greece. The noted ancient Greek physician Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...
(131–201) wrote 87 detailed essays about improving health (proper nutrition), aerobic fitness, and strengthening muscles. Assyrian Hunayn ibn Ishaq
Hunayn ibn Ishaq was a famous and influential Assyrian Nestorian Christian scholar, physician, and scientist, known for his work in translating Greek scientific and medical works into Arabic and Syriac during the heyday of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate.Ḥunayn ibn Isḥaq was the most productive...
translated Galen's work, along with that of Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...
, into Arabic which lead to the spread of Greek physiology throughout the Middle East and Europe. Between 776 BC to 393 AD, 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 Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts....
, 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
(1929–1940; now known as the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology), became a significant journal in the field of research.
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
Austin Flint was an American physician, born at Northampton, Massachusetts, son of Austin Flint. He attended medical lectures at the University of Louisville from 1854 to 1856 and in 1856 and 1857 at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia...
One 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 exercise physiology.
George Wells Fitz, M.D. (1860–1934)
Created the first departmental major in Anatomy, Physiology, and Physical Training at Harvard University in 1891.
Schack August Steenberg Krogh FRS was a Danish professor of Romani background at the department of zoophysiology at the University of Copenhagen from 1916-1945...
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, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. Wrote seminal paper which evaluated the physical working capacity of men and women aged 4–33 years.
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 employment as a physical education teacher
Physical education or gymnastics is a course taken during primary and secondary education that encourages psychomotor learning in a play or movement exploration setting....
, dietician or nutritionist
A nutritionist is a person who advises on matters of food and nutrition impacts on health. Different professional terms are used in different countries, employment settings and contexts — some examples include: nutrition scientist, public health nutritionist, dietitian-nutritionist, clinical...
, performance analyst, sports coach
In sports, a coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sportspeople.-Staff:...
, 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 consultant.
There are many noted institutions in the United Kingdom which run courses in sport and exercise sciences. Some of the more well known are Durham, Leeds
The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...
Loughborough University is a research based campus university located in the market town of Loughborough, Leicestershire, in the East Midlands of England...
The University of Exeter is a public university in South West England. It belongs to the 1994 Group, an association of 19 of the United Kingdom's smaller research-intensive universities....
The University of Bath is a campus university located in Bath, United Kingdom. It received its Royal Charter in 1966....
The University of Birmingham is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Birmingham, England. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Birmingham Medical School and Mason Science College . Birmingham was the first Redbrick university to gain a charter and thus...
Within the United States, The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi offers degrees in Sports and High Performance Materials
and Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi offers a Masters of Science degree in "Sport Science." In 2010, East Tennessee State University became the first university in the US to offer a PhD in Sport Physiology.
Academic journals in sports science
- Journal of Applied Physiology
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
- European Journal of Applied Physiology
- Journal of Sports Sciences
- British Journal of Sports Medicine
- International Journal of Sports Medicine
- Sports Medicine