A biomechanical perspective on exercise countermeasures for long term spaceflight

Many systems of the body undergo adaptation on exposure to hypogravity, with the lower extremity skeleton experiencing considerable mineral loss during relatively short periods of hypogravic exposure. To date, a variety of countermeasures have had limited success in preventing demineralization, though it is now accepted that mechanical deformation is critical for bone homeostasis on Earth. In the present study, three exercises under active consideration for use in the Space Station were compared in 1 G in terms of the peak loads and rates of change of load elicited under the feet. Peak loading rates were in the ratio of 34.7:1.9:1 for running, rowing, and cycling, respectively. With regard to peak foot loads, the corresponding values were in the ratio of 5.3:1:1.2. These results suggest that exercise during spaceflight must be considered from both biomechanical and physiological perspectives if optimal response is to be obtained.

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