Physiology studies how living organisms function, including how the human body regulates and adapts to physical exercise, environment, and stress.


GIH's physiology research began in 1941 when Erik Hohwü-Christensen took up a newly created professorship in the physiology and hygiene of physical exercises at the Royal Gymnastics Central Institute, GCI. Per Henrik Ling's thesis, that gymnastics should be based on the laws of the human organism, thus began to be realized.

Erik Hohwü-Christensen had a solid scientific education from Copenhagen. Among other things, he had the Nobel laureate August Krogh as a teacher, and he succeeded in building up very high-class research. Examples of well-known researchers who received their education in that environment are Per-Olof and Irma Åstrand, Bengt Saltin, and Björn Ekblom.

Over the years, occupational and sports physiology research has covered many areas and has been of both fundamental scientific and applied nature. A clear focus has been on performance and limitations linked to oxygen uptake, as well as how different forms of training affect this. Another major line in recent years deals with adaptation mechanisms in the musculature during physical activity and inactivity.

Current research

Current research can be described as comprehensive occupational physiology research focusing on physical performance, health, and well-being.

This includes research on:

  • the body's adaptation to acute work and training
  • the importance of nutrition for physical performance
  • the muscle's adaptation to endurance training and strength training
  • physical activity and exercise habits in children and adults, partly linked to epidemiological questions
  • exercise and insulin sensitivity
  • the function of mitochondria in the human musculature
  • the importance of muscle for the prevention of various diseases.

The methodology that is regularly used is the traditional determination of oxygen uptake and physical performance, as well as sampling in muscle biopsy and blood tests. The laboratory has a biochemical department with modern equipment for analyzing tissue samples. This includes analyzes of muscle fiber composition, enzyme and metabolite determinations, determination of protein expression (Western blot), gene expression (PCR analysis), and measurement of mitochondrial function in isolated muscle preparations.

Collaboration and collaboration partners

The activities at the Åstrand laboratory have a strong connection with the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet and other universities and colleges in Sweden and abroad. Visiting researchers from various countries such as China, the USA, Denmark, Greece, Italy, and Great Britain regularly stay at the laboratory.

On this page


  • Abram Katz´s profilbildProfessor, head of subject area in physiologyAbram 8-120 53 855
Last modified:12 Feb 2024