History of Exercise Physiology

A photograph of Roger Bannister breaking the 4 min mile.  This accomplishment, and the events leading to this finale, were truly historic moments in the development of the field of exercise physiology.  For example, the 1950's was a time when the prevailing thought by physicians was that the human body could not run faster than the 4 min mile.  In fact, there was real concern at that time for sudden death from such over-exertion.  It is also interesting to acknowledge a time when we did not know how the heart responds to sustained intense exercise; that we did not know how the body provided fuel to working muscle, or how muscle as able to sustain contraction, or the risks of hyperthermia (though that was not a problem in the cold conditions of the UK where the 4 min mile was broken). There was no organized book of knowledge of exercise physiology at this time.  In many ways, Roger's efforts attracted world-wide attention to the exercise capacity of the human body. One could argue that this was a pivotal post-war catalyst to the modern development of exercise science, and of course, exercise physiology.

All students of exercise physiology should read the historical account of this spark in the history of this discipline, which is incredible well written and presented in the following book by Neal Blascomb.

Neal Bascomb, "The Perfect Mile", Mariner Books, Haughton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2005. ISBN 0-618-56209-5

Recommended sequence of topics:

What is exercise physiology

Brief history of exercise physiology

Methods used in exercise physiology