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He is passionate about the joy of movement


Sven Blomqvist is a physiotherapist and researcher who wants everyone to be able to exercise. Specialising in adapted physical activity, he focuses on helping people with disabilities to get moving. Outside of work, he devotes his time to most activities that keeps him in motion.

Sven Blomqvist.

Photo: Anna Sällberg

His interest in movement in various forms has always been there. Already in comprehensive school, Sven Blomqvist became interested in how society can support people with disabilities.

“Exercising is my thing. When I was in comprehensive school, there was a reform, so people with disabilities were integrated into the 'normal' school. I met them at recess, got to know them and saw beyond their difficulties. They are a vulnerable group and need support,” he says.

Sven Blomqvist has worked at the University of Gävle for about ten years now, in teaching and research. He works in the sports science study programme, which focuses on a health-promoting lifestyle.

Need to stimulate and adapt physical activity

The programme has two main tracks: adapted physical activity (AFA) and doping. AFA is about seeing and including all groups of people in sport to enable a physically active lifestyle for everyone, for example, people with scourges such as diabetes and high blood pressure, or people with disabilities. The study programme collaborates with a special needs upper secondary school in Bollnäs.

“These groups have poorer health, and we really need to stimulate and adapt physical activity in an educational manner. Everyone benefits from exercise and many people benefit from exercise as part of their treatment,” Sven Blomqvist says.

Sven Blomqvist.

Photo: Anna Sällberg

He has worked a lot with people with intellectual disabilities and mostly the focus lies in adapting the surrounding environment to create a sense of security.

“The environment needs to be calm and predictable. If you have decided to go to the gym but it turns out to be busy, many people find it difficult to change, and the whole day can be ruined for them. You need to be clear and think about how you communicate. There must not be any disturbing noises, as they can make some people feel very bad.

"Images can be easier to understand"

It is all about motivation and stimulation, Sven Blomqvist explains. People need to find an activity that they can enjoy and continue with throughout their lives. He is currently involved in various projects and in one project he is an ongoing researcher and advisor.

“The project has produced educational material for special school pupils, and the material is entirely image-based. Many people have difficulty reading information, so images can be easier to understand. If there are pictures of muscles, you can talk about what they are and how they work.”

Sven Blomqvist has also worked with how Augmented Reality (AR), which can be used to support older people in practicing their sense of balance. For example, with the help of a pair of AR glasses, older people can see an environment that enhances reality with holograms. Together with a physiotherapist, they can then create an exercise programme where, for example, they practice catching a ball. Exercising then becomes realistic and playful.

Sven Blomqvist.

Sven Blomqvist. Photo: Anna Sällberg

Sven Blomqvist trained as a physiotherapist and began his career working in rehabilitation. Within the company Alfta Rehab, he developed a concept focusing on well-being at work and, later, he worked with training programmes in companies.

“I would like to continue developing the use of AR. Imagine, for example, if after an operation you were given a pair of AR glasses to take home from the hospital. Then you could exercise with them at home and, with the help of home care or home care services, measure your progress.

What is the most fun part of your job?

“Development, both in teaching and in research. In research you are very free, but within certain limits. In teaching, it is important, for example, to describe tasks to students in a way to make them motivated to acquire knowledge. Curiosity drives me.”

In sports science, he is now working with some colleagues on an international study combining the two main tracks of the study programme: adapted physical activity and doping.

“We are looking at para-athletes and how they experience the doping process. It is exciting to be able to combine these two subjects and study how this group of athletes experience the doping process if, for example, they have reduced mobility in their hands or cannot see.

"I am very interested in nature"

Sven Blomqvist prefers to spend his time outdoors, preferably in motion.

“I usually say that I do everything that can move my body forward; I play golf, run, walk, cycle, and paddle. I am very interested in nature, in birds and plants, for example. It would be great if people just got out in nature more. Studies show that your heart rate slows down if you are out in nature compared to when you are in an urban environment. The more things you can do outdoors, the better.”

Text: Anna Sällberg

Name: Sven Blomqvist

Age: 58

Lives in: Bollnäs

Interests: “Anything that can move me forward by muscle power, such as kayaking, inline skating, long-distance skating, cycling and my legs."

What music do you listen to? Neil Young

What books interest you? I listen to everything from crime novels to non-fiction.

Published by: Anna Sällberg Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2023-07-10
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)