KIHU - Research Institute for Olympic Sports

High Performance Unit of Finnish Olympic Committee - Research and Development Program

Research areas

Contact information

  • KIHU - Research Institute for Olympic Sports
  • Rautpohjankatu 6
  • 40700 Jyväskylä
  • Finland
  • Tel: +358 20 781 1500
  • Fax: +358 20 781 1501
  • Business ID: 1574321-0

KIHU online

Science for Success III -kongressi 11.-12.10.2011 Jyväskylässä Kihulook SRD Oy Fast Motion


Sport Physiology


Discipline demo (video)
Ari Nummela
  • Ari Nummela
  • Researcher in Sport Physiology
  • tel +35840 5439217

Sport physiology focuses on the research of body functions in athletes during training, recovery, rest, and competition, as well as on the physical and biochemical responses of the system in different conditions, such as competing and training in high altitudes or hot climates. The training of athletes can be developed only through knowledge of both the physiological requirements of the various sports and the changes caused by training and rest in the functioning of the body system. The testing of body functions during athletic performance allows us to better explain the differences between the performance capacity of athletes of different sports, to describe the physiological requirements of the various sports, and consequently, to develop training and new training methods. Special areas related to the health of athletes can also be considered part of sport physiology, because their study mostly involves the use of physiological and biochemical test methods.

The objective of KIHU's activities in sport physiology is to

KIHU's activities in sport physiology focus on two principal areas:



A comprehensive selection of physical fitness tests are applied in sport physiology. The most common of them include maximal oxygen uptake tests with threshold values, either for laboratory or field conditions, and different versions of the maximal anaerobic performance test (MART). KIHU has versatile sport physiological test equipment and methods for analysing the physiological and biochemical variables of the respiratory and circulatory systems. Oxygen uptake and the functional capacity of lungs can be measured either with an ergospirometer used in laboratory (Sensormedics VMAX), or with a portable one (Oxycon Mobile, Jaeger). In order to provide reliable test and measurement results, the measuring accuracy of the ergospirometers must be sufficient, which is checked with a calibration system (Vacumed). KIHU is the only organization in Finland to offer test centres and hospitals quality tests on ergospirometers with the aforementioned system.

Sport physiology also applies heart rate monitors (Suunto and Polar Electro) and analysis software (Hyvinvointianalyysiohjelma, Firstbeat) to measure and analyse heart rate and rate variation, as well as the Oxypleth pulse oximeter to measure oxygen saturation. Basic blood analyses are also performed, e.g. lactate, glucose, general blood profile, and sedimentation rate analyses. On more complex and less common blood analyses we cooperate with e.g. the Central Finland Central Hospital. KIHU's laboratory is involved in the national quality control activities on laboratory tests, implemented by Labquality Oy.


In sport physiology KIHU has collaborated primarily with endurance and sprint endurance sports. The main partners and client groups have come from cross-country skiing, endurance and sprint running, biathlon, orienteering, triathlon, speed-skating, and alpine skiing. KIHU's projects have produced complete test systems for e.g. cross-country and alpine skiing, biathlon, and sprint and endurance running. In addition, the projects have produced such significant innovations for athletics as simulated altitude training and heart-beat-based methods to assess training load and recovery.