With the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, as the responsible university, a large number of researchers and companies will collaborate in an eight-year research project on physical activity and brain health. GIH is thus taking another vital step forward in broadening and deepening the research on healthy brain functions linked to physical activity. It is a unique project where well-qualified researchers and complementary companies work together.


The Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen), GIH and Monark Exercise AB together with eleven other companies will invest just over 120 million SEK in research on physical activity and healthy brain functions from a sustainable perspective. In addition, non-profit organizations will also participate in the research profile called Center of Excellence in Physical Activity, Healthy Brain Functions and Sustainability, E-PABS.


– We want to understand more about how physical activity patterns affect our brains and how sustainable movement cultures can be supported in society, at work and in private life to contribute effectively and attractively to health promotion for all. Therefore, our research also actively includes people with physical or cognitive disabilities so that innovations of services and products can also be adapted to their needs, says Maria Ekblom, Associate Professor and Research Leader for E-PABS at GIH.

GIH’s research environment is today a nationally sought-after partner. The university is now aiming to build an internationally leading research environment where epidemiological, interventional, and experimental studies will be carried out together with the business community.

– It’s great that GIH, as the country’s only specialist university in the field of sports, is leading such a large and important research project on physical activity and health. This gives us a chance to achieve international excellence in a strategically important area and at the same time contribute with great societal benefits, says Per Nilsson, Vice-Chancellor at GIH.


– It’s gratifying that GIH continues to advance its positions and create value together with the business community. I see this as good proof of GIH’s opportunity for a strong profile in its subject sports science, says Björn Eriksson, Chairman of the Board at GIH and the Swedish Sports Confederation (RF).

Financing based on collaboration with the business community

The Knowledge Foundation grants just over 47 million SEK to the project at GIH, within the framework of their Research Profiles program. Together with the university’s own contribution and support from the twelve companies, the total sum will land at just over 120 million SEK over a period of eight years, starting in November 2021.

The participating companies are AbbVie, Avonova Health, BioArctic, Health Profile Institute, Ikea, Itrim, Monark Exercise, Permobil, Saab, Sats, Skandia and Storytel. In addition, the non-profit organizations Generation Pep, RG Aktiv Rehabilitering and Spinalis are also supporting the project with their specialized expertise.

– The research profile E-PABS is a unique project with a clear agenda and a socially beneficial potential, where well-qualified researchers and complementary companies collaborate. Increased knowledge of the connections between physical activity and brain function can provide an opportunity to optimally adapt and implement exercise and physical activity in different life situations, populations and ages, says Eva Schelin, CEO at the Knowledge Foundation.

Short facts

The Knowledge Foundation has assessed and granted GIH’s research application based on the following criteria: scientific quality, the benefit for business, results and effects and feasibility.

The research profile E-PABS is a project where well-qualified researchers and complementary companies collaborate on three themes and nine initial sub-projects. E-PABS’s three themes are:

  • Behavioural change
  • Physical activity epidemiology
  • Exercise neurophysiology

Collaborative research in brain health has been conducted at GIH since 2016, and has primarily concerned how the mental health and cognitive function of office workers and schoolchildren relates to physical activity, sedentary behavior and fitness. Read more at www.gih.se/brainhealth

GIH conducts education and research in the fields of Physical activity, sustainability and health, Organized sports and performance development, and the school subject Sports and health.


For more information, please contact:

Maria Ekblom, Research Leader at GIH, e-mail: maria.ekblom@gih.se, cellphone: +46 (0)70-003 95 86

Per Nilsson, Vice-Chancellor at GIH, e-mail: per.nilsson@gih.se, telephone: +46 (0)8-120 537 06


The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, situated next to Stockholm Stadium, is Sweden’s leading knowledge center for sport, physical activity and health. Physical education teachers, coaches, sports scientists, health educators and sport managers are trained here. GIH also conducts high-quality research in the field of sport, physical activity and health, often in close cooperation with the sports movement, public and private stakeholders within the field, as well as with Swedish and international universities and university colleges. GIH currently has 150 employees and approximately 1,400 students.