5 Hacks Astronauts Use to Be in Top Shape
By Space Coast Daily // February 3, 2023
Being in zero gravity is compared to a prolonged sleep of several months.
Zero gravity in space can decrease the strength of muscles and bone density. It can also damage cardiovascular health, as the heart cannot function properly without gravity.
The question is, how do astronauts maintain good health in space? We have summed up five essential practices that allow astronauts to survive harsh conditions – keep reading to learn more!
1. Regular Exercise
Exercise is the key for astronauts to defy the limitations set by zero gravity. Proper exercise allows astronauts to strengthen their bodies and mind and help them perform necessary activities. Astronauts are trained to prioritize exercise over food and sleep.
On average, astronauts need to exercise for 2 hours every day to stay in shape and overcome the negative effects of gravity.
Exercise allows astronauts to be prepared for emergencies if they have to exit the space shuttle quickly. With an exercise plan, astronauts ensure that they don’t lose bone density which is hard to recover.
Microgravity causes the loss of plasma, which can lead to a lack of oxygen in the body. The key reason why astronauts focus a lot on exercise is that it helps them increase the amount of plasma. Exercise also allows astronauts to avoid “orthostatic intolerance,” which can make them prone to fainting.
Here is a short overview of three exercises that astronauts rely on the most:
■ Cycle Ergometer
Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System (commonly known as “Cycle Ergometer”) is a reclined bicycle used by astronauts. In simple terms, a cycle ergometer can be compared to a regular bicycle.
Using a cycle ergometer allows astronauts to boost aerobic and cardiovascular fitness. On average, astronauts need to use it seven times a week for 30-90 minutes.
The basic purpose of a cycle ergometer is to help astronauts engage in a high-cardio workout. This sort of workout can allow astronauts to strengthen their muscles and avoid bone loss.
■ Advanced Resistance Exercise Device
Basic exercises are not enough to help astronauts stay healthy in zero gravity. To ensure that astronauts can perform their duties properly, they have to spend some time doing intense workouts. They can help astronauts avoid muscle atrophy and other severe health problems.
Advanced Resistance Exercise Device or ARED allows astronauts to engage intense workouts easily. The device is made with various vacuum tubes and flywheel cables. Using ARED, astronauts can perform the following exercises:
• Calf Raises
Walking is the simplest exercise that is most effective for astronauts. It allows astronauts to avoid cardiovascular problems and loss of bone density. A simple treadmill cannot be used in a space station, and astronauts must use a treadmill equipped with special harnesses.
These harnesses allow astronauts to run on the treadmill without “floating.” Space treadmills are mostly similar to the ones used on earth.
2. Balanced Diet
Exercise alone cannot help astronauts stay healthy and fit in zero gravity. They have to follow a balanced diet to strengthen the body from within and develop stronger immunity to avoid health problems. But scientists think that food does more good than maintaining physical strength.
Consuming tasty and healthy food can enable astronauts to boost their mental health. The consumption of food can help astronauts feel a connection to their homes.
Several factors are considered when choosing food items for astronauts. For example, scientists choose food items that don’t leave any food particles that keep floating and disturb the functionality of sensitive space equipment. Leftover particles are the reason why astronauts prefer tortillas over bread.
Food choices for astronauts have increased over the years. As of now, astronauts can receive multiple deliveries of fresh food items, allowing them to consume fresh food items.
The lack of food choices can make it difficult for astronauts to maintain the levels of nutrients in their bodies. To avoid malnutrition, astronauts can rely on supplements to consume essential vitamins and minerals and boost their health.
For example, Alpha Brain is one of the nootropic supplements that can boost brain activity and energy levels for astronauts.
3. Engaging Communication
Maintaining proper mental health is one of the biggest challenges astronauts face. Lack of concentration can make it difficult for astronauts to focus on their tasks. Communication is one of the best ways to help astronauts beat stress and practice self-care.
Astronauts are not forced to talk to each other all the time. They are allowed to talk to people outside the crew to maintain an emotional connection to planet earth. The presence of reliable WiFi on space stations has allowed astronauts to stay in touch with their loved ones.
Astronauts also rely on social media to share their feelings with the world. Social channels allow astronauts to stay updated about trends and the latest news.
4. Proper Sleeping Routine
Astronauts are not forced to work all the time to perform their responsibilities. Astronauts are encouraged to sleep properly to avoid stress and stay active when working. Maintaining a healthy sleep pattern allows astronauts to maintain physical and mental health.
The daily plan for astronauts involves sleeping for 8 hours at the end of the day. These 8 hours must be comfy for astronauts to wake up fresh the next day.
Astronauts cannot sleep on “regular beds” in the space station. They are strapped to the walls of the space station to overcome the effects of gravity. The lack of gravity can also be comforting as astronauts can relax without depending on a bed and pillows.
5. Quality Entertainment
Work, exercise, food, sleep, and communication cannot make an astronaut feel “lively” all the time. Lack of creativity can be a drastic factor that can decrease the focus of astronauts. This is why astronauts on space stations are recommended to spend time on entertainment.
Astronauts can tune into their favorite media to feel comfy and enjoy a fun time. Watching TV can help astronauts with feelings of homesickness and loneliness.
Other than that, astronauts can also engage in reading books in groups to learn new things and have meaningful discussions.