Maintaining strong muscles is a big enough challenge on Earth. It is much harder to do in space where there is no gravity.
So, how do astronauts stay fit in space? They can’t simply lift dumbbells. To minimize the physiological effects of microgravity, NASA has equipped the International Space Station (ISS) with specialized fitness equipment:
- COLBERT – a space treadmill
- CEVIS – a stationary bike
- ARED – a device that simulates weightlifting
Astronauts spend up two-and-a-half hours a day working out on the ISS. Even with this regime, those who spend long periods in space return to Earth with muscular atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, and bone loss that can be difficult to reverse. According to NASA, 180 days in space can decrease:
- muscular strength by 11 to 17 percent
- muscular endurance by 10 percent
- bone mineral density by two to seven percent.
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