Exercise Biology

The Research Unit in Exercise Biology has specialised in studies of exercise and training interventions. The studies focus on physiological, health- or performance-related outcomes. Overall research themes are:

  1. Acute and chronic physiological and biomechanical adaptations to physical training and nutritional interventions
  2. Effects of training on health and functioning in selected patient groups and at risk populations
  3. Training, nutrition and performance enhancement in athletes.

Research includes clinical studies in patients and applied studies in healthy volunteers, including athletes. Furthermore, basic research is conducted within the fields of muscle physiology and biomechanics using both human and animal models. This basic research provides a strong foundation for the applied and clinical studies. Moreover, it ensures a high quality in measurements of training effects and enables studies of a mechanic nature of the adaption of exercise.

Employees within the research unit are also responsible for teaching at both bachelor and master level programmes in Sport Science.


The Research Unit has well-equipped laboratories for physiological and biomechanical research. Moreover, we have advanced strength training facilities and a cardiorespiratory laboratory to complete supervised and controlled exercise training.

The facilities include equipment for movement analysis and functional muscle strength measurements (high-speed video recorders, power platforms, isokinetic dynamometer), as well as metabolic tests (oxygen uptake, lactate measurement). Moreover, the unit has laboratory functions for molecular biology and and biochemistry measurements, where muscle function and muscle metabolism can be examined at cell level.


  • Female hormones - influence on skeletal muscle mass and function?
    In the majority of research trials in the field of sport science, participants have been men. Nevertheless, preliminary evidence indicates that the female hormone estrogen has an anabolic effect on skeletal muscle mass and improves muscle function and recovery. This indicates a need for gender specific guidelines for training and rehabilitation. Still, the knowledge within this field is sparse. By performing cell studies and well-controlled trials in humans, we try to get closer to elucidating the mechanic influence of the individual female hormones and the interplay between these hormones on skeletal muscle tissue turnover and functioning. The trials are performed in collaboration with Aarhus University hospital, Department for Food Science, Aarhus University, Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen and several international collaborators. Contact person: Mette Hansen 
  • Training regimes, structure-specific loading and running-related injuries in novice and recreational runners
    Description pending
  • ”Conditioning-based intervention strategies” (ConBIS)
    ConBIS comprises an interdisciplinary translational research consortium including the former Section of Sport Science, Aarhus University, Department of Cardiology, iNano (Department of Molecular Biology) and Center for Integrative Neuroscience at Aarhus University Hospital. It also includes several esteemed international collaborators. The research consortium focuses on the effects and underlying mechanisms of transient sub-lethal ischemia models: (1) in connection with preconditioning against chronic ischemia incidents like myocardial infarct and (2) to counteract decay of skeletal muscle metabolic and contractile properties (i.e. preservation of skeletal muscle health). Research questions are pursued in in vivo animal models, cell culture models and in in vivo human intervention models. ConBIS is founded on substantial grants from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Aarhus University Research Foundation. ConBIS includes a large number of post docs and PhD students. Associate Professor, Kristian Vissing, is the responsible principal investigator and steering group member.   
    For detailed/updated information, please see Kristian Vissing's publications.
  • Effects of progressive resistance training in persons with multiple sclerosis
    This study shows the importance of physical training (strength training) in patients with sclerosis as training can positively affect muscle strength, functional capacity, fatigue, mood and quality of life. At the same time the study shows that the brain seems to be positivly affected by training, as more areas of the brain had been revascularised? After training. Moreover, there was a tendency that accellerated brain atrophy in this patient group could be reduced. This study thus refutes long standing counselling of this patient group to avoid physical training. The study is made in close collaboration with neurologists at Aarhus University Hospital and Sønderjylland Hospital.    
  • Adaptations and limitations to dynamic muscle contractile performance
    High intensity exercise can lead to muscle fatigue and may be considered a self-limiting activity. However, muscle function is regulated through a number of intricate mechanisms to protect against fatigue both acutely and during long term adaptions provided by training. Muscular activities consist predominantly of dynamic contractions, and therefore we aim to study the mechanisms of muscular fatigue during such dynamic contractions. Furthermore, we explore how altering the patterns of electrical muscle activation (designed to mimic neural activation patterns occurring in vivo) influences the fatigue muscle response. The investigations are performed in rats using isolated muscles (EDL and soleus) and through examinations of muscle function in humans. Researchers involved are Kristian Overgaard, Anders M. Kristensen, Katja K. Pedersen, Jon Herskind.
  • Muscle and joint loads in orthopaedic patients
    In this series of studies, we investigate the skeletal function in patients with various musculoskeletal conditions before and after orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation. Patients are investigated during natural movements such as gait, running, climbing stairs using advanced biomechanical methods including computer-based models and simulation making it possible to determine individual muscle function non-invasively as well as strain on joint cartilage and ligaments.    

Scientific milestones

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