Along paths converging to Bengt Saltin's early contributions in exercise physiology

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A fascinating chain of events led in 1941 to the formation of the Department of Physiology at the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute (GCI) in Stockholm, Sweden. Erik Hohwü Christensen, from the scientifically advanced Lindhard School in Copenhagen became its first professor. A central research question for him concerned determining the limiting factors for maximal physical performance in man. This was the academic setting where the sports interested medical student Bengt Saltin was introduced to exercise physiology. In the summer of 1959, he became involved in a study on intermittent vs continuous running. A doctoral project, with Per-Olof Åstrand as his tutor, resulted in 1964 as the thesis “Aerobic work capacity and circulation at exercise in man. With special reference to the effect of prolonged exercise and/or heat exposure”. In the decade that followed, Saltin continued along that path. However, he also added a vital research line involving pioneering studies on skeletal muscles in the exercising man, a series of novel studies on the physiological demands in various sports, and studies of the effects of physical training within the general population.

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