Exercise in space
Written by Kevin
Have you ever heard the sentence: “The world is your gym.”? Well, astronauts take this to extreme measures and today I'd like to share with you how they work out even in low gravity with weights and other forms of exercise.
It is widely known that there is a lack of gravity in space, yet it is not really known that astronauts work for two and a half hours a day to keep themselves fit in their weightless environment each day. They are required to exercise in order to prevent loss of muscle and bone-density. As the estimated time to lose muscle is four weeks, astronauts exercise their lower and upper body by doing exercises such as deadlifts, squats and the overhead press.
Photo: Astronaut Chris Hadfield: How To Lift Weights While Weightless, Businessinsider.com
They also work on stationary bikes and treadmills to work on their cardiovascular health. You may ask yourself “How can they lift and do cardio in low gravity?” By using the COLBERT (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill) and the ARED also known as Advanced Resistive Exercise Device they are able to replicate exercise that simulates a normal gym without a weightless environment. The ARED is a piston-driven vacuum cylinder and a flywheel system used as the weight for traditional barbell exercises while the COLBERT, which was named after Stephen Colbert, is a treadmill where astronauts must be harnessed in place.
You may now be asking yourself “So exercise in space is just like regular exercise?” Not exactly, because without gravity blood doesn't pull down to your toes and legs, the majority of blood is mostly in your head and heart. This means that astronauts have less plasma and red blood cells, thus less oxygen to their muscles. This causes a problem with dizziness which hinders performance. And despite working out more than the average human on special equipment, an astronaut's body decreases in strength and muscle strength, endurance and bone density. Scientists are still working on improving exercise in space to diminish the negative health effects of working in this unique environment.
theverge.com, “How do astronauts exercise in space” https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/29/16217348/nasa-iss-how-do-astronauts-exercise-in-space
youtube.com, “How Astronauts Exercise in Space” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUEwakYSrTE
npr.org “NASA Names Space Station Treadmill After Colbert” https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103119972&t=1645343107879