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Life on board the ISS

09-01-2011 16:47 BJT

Exercise

The most significant adverse effects of long-term weightlessness are muscle atrophy and deterioration of the skeleton, or spaceflight osteopenia. Other significant effects include fluid redistribution, a slowing of the cardiovascular system, decreased production of red blood cells, balance disorders, and a weakening of the immune system. Lesser symptoms include loss of body mass, nasal congestion, sleep disturbance, excess flatulence, and puffiness of the face. These effects begin to reverse quickly upon return to the Earth.

Astronaut Frank De Winne is attached to
the TVIS treadmill with bungee cords
aboard the International Space Station
To prevent some of these adverse physiological effects, the station is equipped with two treadmills (including the COLBERT), the aRED (advanced Resistive Exercise Device) which enables various weightlifting exercises, and a stationary bicycle; each astronaut spends at least two hours per day exercising on the equipment. Astronauts use bungee cords to strap themselves to the treadmill. Researchers believe that exercise is a good countermeasure for the bone and muscle density loss that occurs when humans live for a long time without gravity.


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