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.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were different kinds of medical institutions in the health and seaside spa resort Abbazia (nowadays Opatija). The Opatija Guidebooks (1904-1914) praised the three sanatoriums and Zander's Medico-Mechanical Institute, which was owned by Dr. Isor Stein. Dr. Zander, who is not well-known today, has been the main topic of the authors' research. The authors have found out that Dr. Gustav Zander (1835-1920) worked as a teacher of gymnastics, a physician, and a university lecturer about the remedial gymnastics at the University of Stockholm. He constructed several devices which enabled constant and regular movement of individual parts of the human body, as well as certain devices that replaced the manual massage. Zander started his first institute in Stockholm in 1865. People could do exercise using his apparatus. He gained international fame by exhibiting his devices at the International Exhibitions in Brussels and Philadelphia in 1876 and in Paris in 1878. Several Zander's medico-mechanical institutes were established around the world and they were all named after him. There were two hundred and two Zander's Institutes in 1911 when his success and fame reached its peak. Zander's Institute in Opatija was constructed already in 1904 and it was located on the ground floor of Stein's mansion, known as Vila Stein, nowadays Vila Dora. The First World War changed the fundamental role of Zander's Institutes and the Great Depression in 1929 destroyed them. It seems the Institute in Opatija closed down at that time too, even thought we have not found out the precise date. The modern fitness studios started to emerge in Europe in the 1950s, a few decades after Zander's medico-mechanical institutes ceased to exist. Many modern professional fitness devices are basically derived from the apparatus that was recommended, constructed and launched into the society already by Dr. Gustav Zander. The authors of this article presume that it was Dr. Zander who already used the methods of physiotherapy and fitness that are generally used today.
Gymnastics as a way of healing and of preserving health spread in Hungary--almost exclusively among higher classes--only in the first half of the 19th century. The movement was inspired by naturopathic theories of the time, first of all by Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland's macrobiotics, by Vinzenz Priessnitz's hydrotherapy and by his healing gymnastics. Gymnastics has been utilized from the 30ies by a new bough of medicine, orthopaedy. The so called Swedish Gymnastics invented by Per Henrik Ling and by his son Hjalmar Ling or the method of the German gymnast Adolf Spiess were well known in Hungary as well. The pediatrist Agost Schöp-Merei founded the first Institute for Gymnastics in Pest in 1835. As orthopaedy developed, gymnastics was more and more utilized in curing locomotor disorders. Gymnastics however stood in close connection with hydropathy as well. Several institutes for hydropathy and gymnastics were founded in the 50ies and 60ies throughout the country. The most popular of them were those of Károly Siklósy and Sámuel Batizfalvy. Preventive gymnastics gained popularity only in the second half of the 19th century, as 1830 the French gymnast Ignatius Clair moved to Pest and founded the "Pester gymnastische Schule" (Gymnastics School of Pest). This private school flourished till 1863. The Gymnastic Federation of Pest (later National Gymnastics Federation), the first Hungarian sport club was founded in 1866. Tivadar Bakody played an important role in its creation. Gymnastics and sport at the beginning were closely connected with fire-service, so gymnastics clubs often functioned also as fire-guard-bodies. In the 70ies and 80ies the social basis of sport movement was slowly broadened out. The end of the century saw already 44 gymnastics-clubs in Hungary united in a single union, the National Federation of Gymnasts, which organized the education of the profession as well. The trend of development didn't cease up to the Great War. This time the movement was headed by Sándor Hegedus and by Albert Berzeviczy, latter being also the president of the Hungarian Olympic Committee.
Since time immemorial authors have noticed the usefulness of physical activity. In the 18th century C von Linné was a spokesman for bodily exercise, and in the beginning of the 19th century P. H . Ling shaped the Swedish gymnastics and founded the Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet in 1813. He aimed at harmonious bodies according to the models of the classic antiquity. Many physicians, I. and F. Holmgren saw the value of the gymnastics. Completing the Ling gymnastics, there was a growing interest in physical performance, i.e., athletics. Above all, the contributions of the officer V. Balck, culminating at the olympic games in Stockholm 1912, made athletics a national movement. Since 1913 it receives an annual economic support from the state. Some physicians feared from overexertion in athletics but they appreciated physical performance. However, they demanded that you should be wholly full-grown prior to great exortions. An important part of the Ling program was remedial gymnastics which was more and more estimated after P. Haglund had asserted its value. T. Sjöstrand's studies became a good basis for evaluating the effect of physical training in both healthy and sick persons. It was not until the 1950s that the first studies, later confirmed, gave holds for the view that physical training was good for public health. But the average life span does not seem to be influenced by physical activities. Now and then training had earlier been used as therapy for disparate sorts of diseases but most rationally for disturbed functions of the locomotor system. Training became an important part of medical rehabilitation only after the second world war. Gymnastics and athletics at school have always had a solid support by physicians. The subject has nowadays so few hours that it cannot result in safe training habits for the future.