Anatomy & Physiology

Anatomy is the study of the structure of tissues and body parts. Physiology is the study of the function of body tissues and body parts as they function for a whole living organism. The Anatomy & Physiology section is designed to promote understanding of anatomy and physiology in relationship to exercise, human performance, adaptation, recovery and rest for active people.

Anatomy and Physiology are the sciences historically most associated with the field of Medicine. References to Anatomy studies go as far back as 1600 BC and 460 BC. The latest major contributor to Anatomy from ancient times was Galen in the 2nd century. Following  the Middle Ages, the Renaissance brought an increase of physiological research in the Western world that triggered the modern study of anatomy and physiology. Anatomist William Harvey described blood circulation in the 17th century, demonstrating the combination of close observations and careful experiments to learn about the functions of the body, which was fundamental to the development of experimental physiology. Herman Boerhaave is sometimes referred to as a father of physiology due to his exemplary teaching in Leiden and textbook ‘Institutiones medicae’ (1708).

In the 19th century, physiological knowledge began to accumulate at a rapid rate, most notably with Matthias Schleidan and Theodor Schwann’s “Cell theory” which radically stated in 1838 that organisms are made up of units called cells, along with Claude Bernard’s (1813-1878) many discoveries that ultimately led to his concept of, interieur (internal environment) which would later be taken up and championed as ‘Homeostasis’ by American physiologist Walter Cannon (1871-1945).

Exercise Physiology is a 20th century advance of Physiology that concentrates on the physiology of the human body under stress of exertion and how the body maintains homeostatis under stress. Experiments in Exercise Physiology are often devised to gain understanding on the best methods to improve physical performance, gain muscle mass, lose fat weight, improve speed, improve strength, and prevent illness and injury.