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Exercise Physiologists

History

Humanity has been aware of the integral relationship between exercise and health for thousands of years. More than two thousand years ago, Hippocrates, the Greek physician who is recognized as the father of medicine stated: "If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."

It was not until the late 1800s, however, that the concepts of exercise physiology began to be studied in depth in the United States. Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent was a pioneer in physical education at Harvard University, and created the Sargent School of Physical Training at the university in 1881. He developed a system for physical examination that included strength testing and anthropometric measures. His vertical jump test, known as the Sargent Test, is still used today.

Many cite the creation of the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory in 1927 as a key event in the development of exercise physiology in the United States. The laboratory, which closed in 1947, conducted groundbreaking research in exercise and environmental physiology—much of which is still used today.

In the following decades several professional associations (such as the American College of Sports Medicine) were founded to represent exercise science professionals, but it was not until 1997 that an association was created that represented the specific interests of exercise physiologists. The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) aims to improve the field of exercise physiology through certification, visibility, and professionalism.