The History of Exercise Physiology

I recently purchased Exercise Physiology by William McArdle. It is the text used for University of Vermont’s course on that topic. I opened the book expecting to jump right into nutrition, muscular movement, injury rehab, and cardiovascular and neural function. But it started with a 55-page history of the science of exercise physiology. It was fascinating! We may take for granted fundamental principles of training, such things as VO2 Max, hard-easy loading, nutritional balance, and benefits of strength work. And it seems like new developments in the field, or at least novel approaches, come along every couple years. Anything we have a question about has boundless info on the Web. We of course know it wasn’t always like that.   And I raptly read through this historical account. “Exercise” was first defined by Galen, who lived from 130 to 210 AD and treated both Roman gladiators and their rulers. Roman athletes who threw the javelin, discus, and ran fast were revered. He espoused the “laws of health” including fresh air, proper diet and drink, good hygiene, exercise, sleep, and emotional control. He considered exercise “vigorous movement” and was well aware of what we today call the “overload principle.”   There were numerous … Continue reading

The Chemistry of Life – and Running!

I recently retired from a career in finance and accounting and moved back to Vermont. I have been doing personal training and run coaching on a very part-time basis but now have the time to be a full-fledged exercise science professional. To facilitate this, I’m looking at a course in exercise physiology offered at UVM next semester. In case this proves a viable option, I am self-studying the prerequisite, Human Anatomy and Physiology by Elaine Marieb, a yearlong course covering the gamut of all that happens inside us. I figured this would be a cursory overview, which I could skim and be ready for class in January. Wrong! Right off the bat this book went into fascinating detail of how our bodies work. Fortunately, many of the terms were familiar — graduate studies in food science and nutrition years ago had not permanently eluded me. But the context is quite different. Before I was trying to memorize things without a use in mind. Now, I look at this from the perspective of running and coaching.   It’s like walking into a previously dark room now full of color and bright lights! Take for example the section on “Factors Influencing the Rate … Continue reading