Unit of Biology of Physical Activity

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Research tradition

Biology of Physical Activity at the University of Jyväskylä has a research tradition that spans over 40 years. In the early 1970s we focused on developing research in two main areas: exercise physiology and biomechanics. This work concentrated on the basic interaction between physical performance and biological factors in the human body. However, our principle is to avoid strict definitions and the division of the fields. Thus, it is common practice to use methods from both biomechanics and physiology simultaneously to address a specific research problem.

Research is carried out with good interaction with methodological developments in the basic natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics.


In 2002 we received a full professorship in science of sport coaching and fitness testing. This third main research area involves the application of scientific methods to the study of sport, physical activity and rehabilitation, as well as related fields such as sports medicine. One of its aims is to develop new methods for fitness testing in both laboratory and field conditions for athletes, people of different ages and various patient groups. Other major interests include sport-related performance profiles, technique analyses, adaptations to strength and/or endurance training, performance optimisation and overtraining. Research problems in this field often employ a multidisciplinary approach with the aims of identifying new scientific findings, as well as practical applications.

Research principles

A major principle in our research work is to give equal emphasis to basic and applied research problems in biology of physical activity. We devote about 50% of our research projects to basic research questions in biology of physical activity. This research is carried out with good interaction with methodological developments in the basic natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Methodological advances and knowledge obtained from basic research are essential in order to successfully answer applied research questions.


This research policy also allows us to contribute strongly to various applied fields related to biology of physical activity. In basic research in biology of physical activity, we concentrate on our fields of expertise such as mechanisms and adaptation of neuromuscular function in movement. This area utilizes methods and ideas from both biomechanics (e.g. muscle mechanics, neuromuscular control) and exercise physiology (e.g. cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, histochemistry). As early as 1993, the University nominated this basic research area as one of the fields in which the University has a strong representation and international reputation. In 1997 the Rector of the University rewarded our research productivity with a unique research unit: the Neuromuscular research Center.

National and international collaboration

Many of the studies in the three major fields of research are carried out in collaboration with foreign research institutes including: Aalborg University (Denmark); Appalachian State University (USA); Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Tokyo (Japan); Deutsche Sporthochschule (Germany); Karolinska Institute (Sweden); Muscle Research Centre (Denmark); Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (Norway); Southern Cross University (Australia); Studies, Research and Sports Medicine Center (Spain); University of Connecticut (USA); University of Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Freiburg (Germany); University of Kyoto (Japan); University of Ljubljana (Slovenia); University of Marseille (France); University of Salzburg (Austria); University of St Etienne (France); and University of Queensland, Australia.

Furthermore, national co-operation is a natural part of our research work. LIKES research center, the Research Institute for Olympic Sports, the Central Hospital of Central Finland, and other members of the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences are our closest partners. In addition, we have common research projects with other Finnish Universities, especially in Helsinki, Turku, Kuopio and Oulu, and also with the Vuokatti Sports Institute.

The academic staff actively attend several international scientific congresses annually. The majority of our research reports are published in internationally recognised peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Becoming a researcher

We offer an appropriate environment for students to be introduced to research problems, and develop their scientific thinking. Although each PhD research project is clearly defined and focused, it is linked as an integral part of a larger research area. Young scientists have access to sophisticated equipment and innovative methodological approaches to help solve cutting edge research problems. All research seminars and scientific writing are in English. The doctoral (Ph.D.) program in Biology of Physical Activity requires a total of four years of full-time work beyond 


the M.Sc. degree. The doctoral thesis is usually a summary (50-100 pages) of the work, which results in 4 original publications in internationally recognised scientific journals. Along with the actual doctoral thesis, students take part in international intensive courses and visit high standard foreign laboratories in their particular field. In addition, all post graduate students present their research results annually at international congresses.

Contact Information


Department of Biology of Physical Activity
P.O: Box 35
FI-40014 University of Jyväskylä
Tel. +358 40 805 3384

Snowpolis - Vuokatti

Sport Technology Programme
Kidekuja 2
FI-88610 Vuokatti
Tel. +358 (0)40 805 4687