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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Landscapes with a heartbeat: tracing a portable landscape for jogging in Sweden (1958–1971)

Qviström, Mattias


This paper traces the origins, marketing, and proliferation of a model facility for fitness running in Sweden (1958-71) in order to reveal the history of a mundane infrastructure of the modern Swedish town. In the process, it explores the possibility of following portable landscapes in order to provide richer stories on urbanisation. The paper first introduces an internationally renowned team in exercise physiology, together with how this team marketed fitness exercise in Sweden in the 1950s and 1960s. The study then follows the establishment of a heterogeneous network for the circulation of a portable landscape for jogging and outdoor exercise, with particular focus on the role of physicians and the Swedish Ski and Outdoor Association. The model was developed with the pulse at its centre as a reductive measurement of health. With the cycle ergometer and standardised fitness tests, the individual pulse was made manifest, combined with the marketing of the model facility for exercise which expressed a particular landscape ideal, with standardised centres for outdoor exercise established all over the country. With these new facilities, a bodily pulse, a societal rhythm, and a moral landscape of the modern welfare society proliferated.


fitness running; urbanisation; landscape theory; leisure; rhythm; relational space

Published in

Environment and Planning A
2013, Volume: 45, number: 2, pages: 312-328
Publisher: PION LTD