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Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine is a centre for exercise medicine supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The institute’s activities were launched in 1976 as a result of an experimental project on health-enhancing physical activity by the City of Kuopio. The next year, the city named the unit carrying out the project the Kuopio Research Station in Exercise Medicine, and in 1979, the research station operations were transferred under the remit of the Foundation for Sports and Exercise Medicine. In this context, the centre’s name was changed to the Foundation for Sports and Exercise Medicine’s Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine. Since 1991, the  Foundation for Research in Health Exercise and Nutrition has been responsible for its activities.

Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine has been operating at the University of Eastern Finland’s Medistudia building since the beginning of 2023. The institute’s main tasks include research, teaching and training as well as service activities, which mostly concern research. The Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine’s activities include conducting high-quality research in exercise medicine, developing targeted therapy based on scientific evidence and transferring new information to the operating environment of healthcare. The institute also promotes national and international networking and trains medical specialists in exercise medicine.

“Our biggest partners at the local level include the University of Eastern Finland and the Wellbeing Services County of North Savo. At the European level, we are members of a network called the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC), where I’ve also been serving in positions of trust for several years”, says Chief Physician Kai Savonen.

Savonen’s versatile areas of research have included both health-enhancing physical activity as well as healthy diets. For the past 30 years, his work has particularly revolved around exercise stress testing, which has included conducting measurements and testing as well as research and scientific publications.

“In practice, introducing research knowledge into healthcare and among the general population means concrete information provision. For example, I regularly participate in clinic meetings at KUH to talk about different topics. I also get requests to lecture at training events for healthcare professionals. As research plays an important role, publishing articles is also an important part of our activities at KRIEM, Savonen continues.

KRIEM’s bicycle ergospirometry measurement room.

New partnerships from cooperation projects

As of 2017, KRIEM’s key research area complies with the new sports and science policies of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The main attention is placed on the impacts of lifestyle interventions on factors related to the health economy, sociological aspects and exercise medicine factors. KRIEM participates in a project led by Senior Lecturer  Marja Äijö of the Savonia University of Applied Sciences that aims to increase physical activity and activity in day-to-day life among the ageing population in the North Savo region through advice and experiments related to physical activity. The University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Region Association for Respiratory Health and Savon Sydänpiiri ry cardiac health association. The project receives funding from the Aarne and Aili Turunen Foundation, the Kuopio Region Association for Respiratory Health, the Olvi Foundation, the Saastamoinen Foundation and the Sirkka and Jorma Turunen Foundation. The project funding amounts to in total EUR 225,000 in funding.

“The different projects have also resulted in many partnerships with various parties. We served as a scientific expert body in the PANIC study of the UEF Institute of Biomedicine led by Professor Timo Lakka. The Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study is conducted using a large population-based dataset on children followed retrospectively beginning from the foetal period and prospectively until adolescence.”

“In the DIFTOB study that examines the combined effect of nutrition and a faecal transplant obtained from a slender person on the health of overweight persons, KRIEM conducts exercise measurements. In Kuopio, Professor Ursula Schwab is responsible for the study. The research is carried out from 2022 to 2024. In patient studies, we often collaborate with the different units of KUH. Patients can be informed about an ongoing study during a doctor’s appointment if they meet the study criteria. We recruit healthy research patients with newspaper and online advertisements”, Savonen explains.

“We are currently involved in close cooperation with Oura Health, a smart ring manufacturer, and have an ongoing research project with them. KRIEM and Oura are collaborating in a study to discover new factors measuring the condition of the cardiovascular system using the Oura ring and the effect of physical activity on the factors. We also have collaboration with the local Kuopio football club, KuPS, which has become established over several years”, Savonen continues.

Puijo Symposium is one of the most significant industry events

The international Puijo Symposium is an internationally extremely well-known and highly esteemed congress organised by the Foundation/Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine. The purpose of the event is to disseminate the latest evidence-based information about the impacts of physical training on older people to professionals involved in practical operations as well as researchers and decision-makers. The congress is focused on data produced in controlled randomised trial settings.

Launched back in 1976, the symposium series is classified as one of the most significant events in the field of exercise medicine in the world. The 23rd international Puijo Symposium “Physical Activity for Health Promotion and Medical Care – translation of clinical trial data to everyday practice” was organised in Kuopio in June 2022.

Top competence and networks support clients

The Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine provides its clients with access to versatile examinations in exercise medicine, including physician’s and testing services and appointments with an exercise physiologist. Clients can participate in the examinations with a referral from the physician responsible for their treatment or by contacting KRIEM. These include examinations of the cardiovascular and respiratory system and stress testing (cycle ergometer and spiroergometer). The testing services include endurance performance and body composition measurements.

KRIEM’s Chief Physician Kai Savonen welcomes clients to the research institute.

“Ergospirometry measurements is one of our core competence areas and we’re the best in Finland for them. We offer various measurements of the respiratory and circulatory system and can help you with various questions in our role as experts. We also have good networks that enable us to find the right partners for the needs of different operators.

“Many of our client relationships are the result of personal contacts. You can become our client by visiting us in person or by emailing or calling us. We’re open to contacts”, Savonen concludes.

More information about the services of the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine.

Kai Savonen, Chief Physician, kai.savonen(at)kultu.fi, Tel. +358 (0)400 628 532
Pirjo Komulainen, Executive Manager, pirjo.komulainen(at)kultu.fi, Tel. +358 (0)44 5622 044


The primary tasks of the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine (KRIEM) include producing high-quality research data in exercise medicine, developing targeted treatment for exercise based on scientific evidence, transferring new information to the healthcare environment, providing training for medical specialists in exercise medicine, and promoting international and national networking in the field.