NASA More Hopeful on Astronauts' Fitness for Long Missions

A study announced Aug. 24 by the agency proves a new workout machine and a diet offering sufficient calories and vitamin D, among other nutrients, allowed ISS crew members to retain more bone mineral density.

For years, NASA has studied and sought to solve the problem of bone density loss in astronauts during long-term spaceflights. International Space Station (ISS) crew members long have used exercise machines to attempt to reduce bone loss, and now a study published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows the latest methods are succeeding.

The study -- by six authors from the Johnson Space Center's Human Adaptation and Countermeasures Division, the University of Bonn's Department of Nutrition and Food Science, the Profil Institute for Metabolic Research GmbH (Neuss, Germany), and the Universities Space Research Association's Division of Space Life Sciences (Houston) -- found a new workout machine and a diet offering sufficient calories and vitamin D, among other nutrients, allowed ISS crew members to retain more bone mineral density.

The machine is the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device was installed on the station in 2008. It doubles the maximum simulated weight crew members can lift, to a total of 600 pounds. The six researchers compared bone density measurements from 2006 until 2008 and found astronauts coming home after using ARED and the better diet had more lean muscle, less fat, and kept more of their bone density.

"After 51 years of human spaceflight, these data mark the first significant progress in protecting bone through diet and exercise," said Dr. Scott M. Smith, NASA nutritionist at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and lead author of the study. "Although more research needs to be done in this regard, our study marks a significant milestone in our long search to find ways to help ensure crew health and performance on long-duration missions. These data will be critical in enabling us to send humans, once again, to destinations beyond low Earth orbit."

He and his colleagues found astronauts who used the ARED still had increased bone breakdown, but their bone renewal tended to increase, according to NASA's news release.

"The increase in both bone breakdown and formation suggests that the bone is being remodeled, but a key question remains as to whether this remodeled bone is as strong as the bone before flight," said Dr. Jean Sibonga, NASA bone discipline lead at JSC and co-author of the study.

According to NASA, astronauts in the past have lost an average of 1 to 2 percent of their bone density per month, compared with an elderly person who loses about 1 to 2 percent per year.

An experiment now being conducted on ISS is studying the benefits of lowering crew members' sodium intake, according to the release.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark CP

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2020

    October 2020

    Featuring:

    • FACILITY SECURITY
      EHS Compliance: Make it Personal
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      Choosing the Right Safety Shoe for Your Industry
    • HAND PROTECTION
      A Requirements Checklists for Work Safety Gloves
    • COVID-19 MANAGEMENT
      Contemporary Issues in HSE Management
    View This Issue