ES.010 | Spring 2013 | Undergraduate

Chemistry of Sports


Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Workout Sessions: 1 / session / week, 1 hour / session



Experimental Study Group (ESG)

The Experimental Study Group sponsors 5–10 six unit pass / fail seminars each spring on a variety of innovative subjects not covered in the regular curriculum. These seminars are open to all MIT students, as well as, ESG students and are intended to be hands-on and experiential in nature.


This seminar is a Pass / Fail 6 unit seminar.

To earn a pass you must:

  1. Attend 85 % of class meetings (which means you can miss 2 meetings over the course of the term).
  2. Participate in the class discussions.
  3. Do the readings before coming to class.
  4. Maintain a physical exercise program over the course of the term to apply the classroom knowledge to your own body.
  5. Do a literature review for a given week based on material posted on course website.
  6. Participate in the mini-triathlon during the second last class.

Classroom Component

The classroom component will introduce the students to the chemistry of their own biological system. We will be looking at nutrition (to understand how to fuel and rebuild your body), anatomy and physiology (to better build your system), and how the body can be improved (or hurt) through physical activities. To better understand the three sports, we will examine the chemistry of equipment and the event, including: swimming (wetsuit making, swimsuit manufacturing, how chlorine affects you), bicycling (including a field trip to the MIT Wind tunnel), and running (including a clinic on how to run more efficiently). We will also look at ways your body deals with exercise through building up and repair of muscles, improvement in lung and cardiovascular capacity, the chemistry of supplements and their effectiveness and new this year, looking at epigenetics (the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the DNA sequence) and how we can use it to improve our physical fitness.

Laboratory Component

The practical part of the course happens once a week for an hour. The focus of the workouts is to give you a taste of triathlon training consisting of swim / bike / run brick workouts focusing on the week’s themes. The students can earn up to 2 PE points during the term if they attend the supervised Triathlon training workouts. To help the student on the triathlon performance, we will be having a pre-and post cardiovascular, BMI, and VO2 testing as well as a general fitness evaluation done.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2013
Learning Resource Types
Demonstration Videos
Lecture Notes
Activity Assignments
Written Assignments