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In-flight resistance exercises can help astronauts reduce bone loss

In-flight resistance exercises can help astronauts reduce bone loss

Astronauts who have returned after three-month spaceflights can attend Signs of incomplete bone recovery Even after a year on Earth, adding more resistance-based exercise during spaceflight can help limit bone loss. The small study published in Scientific Reportsamong 17 international astronauts who found that while the shin is partially recovered, sustained bone loss after one year is equivalent to ten years of normal age-related bone loss on Earth.

Stephen BoydAnd the me gabel And 17 astronauts (14 male, three female) were captured before the space flight, upon their return to Earth, and after six and 12 months of recovery. They performed scans of the shin bone (tibia) and radius (forearm) to calculate the bone’s strength to fracture (fracture load), bone mineral in the bone, and tissue thickness. The authors also recorded exercises such as cycling, running on a treadmill, and deadlift that the astronauts completed during flight and after the flight.

Dr. Stephen Boyd works at the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health in the Cumming School of Medicine, the School of Kinesiology, and the Schulich School of Engineering. Credit: Don Molino

One year into the flight, the average results of 16 astronauts showed incomplete shin bone recovery. The average tibia failure load, as measured by bone strength, was reduced by 152.0 N from 10,579 N before the flight to 10,427 N after one year. Total BMD decreased by 4.5 milligrams per cubic centimeter from pre-flight levels of 326.8 mg/cm3. Forearm measurements on all astronauts at 12 months of recovery did not differ from pre-flight.

The authors note that astronauts on missions of more than six months (for a total of eight astronauts) have significantly lower bone recovery. In astronauts on missions of more than six months, the mean tibial interval load was reduced by 333.9 N after one year compared to before the flight, while in astronauts on missions lasting less than six months (nine astronauts) the load break point was decreased by 79.9 Newtons. Similar differences were found in the total bone mineral density of the tibia. Overall, nine of the astronauts (seven from long missions) had not recovered their full shin bone mineral density after 12 months.

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Dr. Lee Gabel, Ph.D., McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health at Cumming School of Medicine, College of Kinesiology, is a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Credit: Adrian Shellard

Of all the astronauts, those who completed greater amounts of deadlift training than their individual pre-flight training were identified as part of those who regained their tibial mineral density. The authors suggest that, in addition to currently used training procedures, a jump resistance-based exercise that delivers high-impact dynamic loads to the legs can help prevent bone loss and promote bone formation during spaceflight missions.