Physiological research is of high priority at GIH and has its base at the Åstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology. The head of the research unit is Professor Eva Blomstrand.


Research in exercise physiology has a long tradition at GIH and started already 1941 when Erik Hohwü-Christensen was appointed as professor in Exercise Physiology and Health (kroppsövningarnas fysiologi och hygien). The concept expressed by Per Henrik Ling that gymnastic should be based on the principles of physiology and anatomy could then be realized.

Erik Hohwü-Christensen had a profound scientific training from Copenhagen under the supervision and influence of the Nobel laureate August Krogh. Erik Hohwü-Christensen laid the foundation of a research unit where the quality and impact of the research reached a high international level. A number of scientists with high international reputation have acquired their scientific training and been active in research at GIH (e.g. Per-Olof and Irma Åstrand, Bengt Saltin and Björn Ekblom).

The research within exercise physiology at GIH has been broad, covering a range of important research questions within both basic science and more applied topics. A primary focus has been to investigate the limitations of maximal oxygen uptake and exercise performance as well as to develop training and nutritional strategies to enhance performance. Another major research focus has been to investigate the adaptation of muscle metabolism to exercise and training.

The Åstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology

The current research can be classified as general human exercise physiology with a focus on limiting factors of performance as well as on physical activity and health. Examples of current research projects are:

  • whole body adaptation to exercise and training
  • physical performance and nutrition
  • muscle adaptation to endurance and strength training
  • physical activity in children and adults in part studied from a epidemiologic perspective
  • training and insulin sensitivity
  • mitochondrial function and adaptation to training in human skeletal muscle

The laboratory uses conventional techniques to measure oxygen uptake, oxygen kinetics and physical performance as well as methods to obtain and analyze muscle samples. The laboratory has a biochemical section equipped with facilities for advanced biochemical analysis of tissues including determination of muscle fiber composition, enzyme activities, metabolite contents, protein expression (Western blot), gene expression (PCR analysis) and mitochondrial function.