Spacey Fitness

November 20, 2008 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Zero gravity may sound nifty, but it’s tough on the bod.  According to NASA, studies indicate that astronauts can lose an average of 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass monthly.  The Earth-bound among us use strength training to combat bone loss, and now it’s even easier for space rangers to do the same.

“The advanced Resistive Exercise Device, aRED for short, functions like a weight machine in a gym on Earth, except it has no conventional weights. Instead, it has vacuum cylinders — canisters with air that have had a vacuum applied — that provide concentric workloads up to 600 pounds, NASA says.”

Little flywheels on the aRED generate the gravity by spinning in opposite directions, so astronauts can do squats, dead lifts, heel raises, bicep curls and bench presses.  If they’re on the International Space Station, they’ve also got access to a bicycle and a treadmill.  

Apparently, making yourself exercise in the first place is as important in the outer dimension as it is down here.  Clay Anderson, a NASA astronaut from Omaha, Nebraska, exercised for two-and-a-half hours a day for 151 out of the 152 days of his voyage, losing only 4 percent of his body mass instead of the usual 12 to 16 percent.  The lesson for those of us tethered to Beautiful Blue?  Pretty much any exercise you do is going to help; just do it.

Next up for scientists to figure out… what supplements an astronaut should take and what type of food they should eat.  A study going on right now should provide some interesting insight when it’s completed… insight that will probably be valuable for us here on Earth, too.

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Entry filed under: exercise equipment, news around the blogosphere, science.

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