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ACSM, MSSE®, and Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 1 - p 2-3
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000106189.41125.82

1University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI and

2Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

To commemorate a year of celebration for its 50th Annual Meeting in May 2003 and its 50th anniversary as an organization in 2004, the American College of Sports Medicine and Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® are pleased to publish personal historical perspectives from leading sports medicine and exercise science professionals. This article is one in a series of articles based on the impact ACSM and MSSE® have had on the fields and categories covered in this ACSM’s flagship journal.

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ACSM was my first professional association introduced to me in the late 1950s by my undergraduate professor at the University of Western Ontario, Michael Yuhasz (a mentee of Thomas Cureton). Well before I specialized in pulmonary physiology, I was exposed via ACSM meetings in the early 1960s to scientific leaders in physiology, such as Henry L. Taylor, Elsworth Buskirk, and David E. Donald. The thoroughness, objectivity, and vision shown by these scientists, even in the heat of wide open oral debate, made a strong and lasting impression on a naive graduate student. My initial evangelism was replaced by skepticism. Years later, I also had the opportunity to personally engage in lively public discussions with such luminaries as Brian Whipp, Bengt Saltin, Hugh Welch, Jack Barclay, Kieran Killian, and Wendell Stainsby, owing primarily to the open give and take provided and encouraged at ACSM gatherings. It was an exhilarating (and humbling) experience when Professor Stainsby would rise to suggest that there appeared to be a hint of “black magic” in my reasoning. I do know that the prospect of these interactions every year made my students and me work extra hard to prepare ourselves.

Respiratory physiology has never been a highly popular theme at ACSM, probably in part because the healthy lungs’ response to exercise is usually near perfect and also because physical training has little effect on the lung. However, in the past two decades, a growing interest in such problems as high altitude, aging, respiratory muscles, and cardiorespiratory interactions has provided an opportunity for students of respiratory physiology at ACSM to present their work and receive good critical feedback. The ACSM meeting remains among the very best forums for research into skeletal muscle adaptations and has also provided an important national stage for research in skeletal muscle blood flow and its regulation via the autonomic nervous system.

As a life-long member and devotee to the College, it is my hope that concentrated efforts continue to be made by the scientific leaders in ACSM to ensure that these important areas of excellence be preserved and strengthened at the national meeting. We must keep the young basic scientists attracted to ACSM. I am especially thankful for the selfless contributions made by such stalwarts as Charles Tipton, and the late John Sutton, Carl Gisolfi, and Bruno Balke, who helped make the first 50 years a resounding success.—Jerome A. Dempsey, Ph.D.

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ACSM/ MSSE® and the Cardiovascular System

It appears that a major stimulus for the formation of ACSM was a keen scientific and clinical interest in the “athlete’s heart” by a number of the Founders, especially Drs. Wolffe, Hyman, and Jokl. The first scientific session sponsored by ACSM [American Federation of Sports Medicine] in 1954 was titled “The Critical Evaluation of Cardiovascular and Other Findings in Marathon Runners and Their Clinical Implications.” The conclusion of this session was that prolonged exercise did not damage but generally enhanced cardiovascular structure, function, and health. Over the next few decades, scientific sessions at annual ACSM meetings were heavily laden with presentations by physicians and physiologists on the cardiovascular responses to exercise.

By the time the first issue of Medicine and Science in Sports was published in 1969, a great deal of research had already been conducted on the acute and chronic responses of the cardiovascular system to exercise. As part of the proceedings of a symposium titled Physiological Basis for Human Work Performance published in that issue, a manuscript by Loring Rowell contained much of what is known about the role the cardiovascular (CV) system plays in oxygen transport during endurance exercise. Since that initial issue, MSSE® has been a valuable communication resource for scientists and clinicians interested in how the CV system acutely responds to exercise as well as the influence of various exercise training regimens on cardiovascular capacity and efficiency. During the past decade, there have been substantially more publications emanating from epidemiological as well as basic science studies that focus on the cardiovascular system. In the health arena, important research has been published on how exercise influences selected cardiovascular risk factors, the potential role that habitual physical activity has in the prevention of coronary heart disease, and the functional benefits of exercise as part of cardiac rehabilitation.

In addition to the publication of original research and scientific reviews on the interaction between exercise and the cardiovascular system, MSSE® has been a major vehicle for the dissemination of important position stands and guidelines developed under the auspices of ACSM. Since 1978, these documents have been recognized as the primary source for defining the use of exercise in promoting cardiovascular function and health.— William L. Haskell, Ph.D., FACSM

William L. Haskell, Ph.D., FACSM

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine