NASAs remedy for staying fit when confined in bed

November 20th, 2007 - 4:25 pm ICT by admin  

London, Nov 20 (ANI): A NASA study has created an exercise regime that can help bed-ridden peoples muscles away from atrophying with a combination of aerobic and strength training workouts.

The study, led by Scott Trappe, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, assessed effective exercise regimes for astronauts living without gravity.

In the study, over a period of 60 days, 24 women voluntarily confined themselves to bed.

The women were confined to bed with their heads pointing down at a six-degree angle, which scientists believe most accurately simulates the weightless environment of space.

While on the bed, one-third did not exercise and did not have a special diet. Another third didn’t exercise but ate a high-protein nutritional supplement. The last group exercised two or three days a week, all without leaving their beds.

The workouts consisted of 40 to 50 minutes of aerobic exercises and 20 minutes of strength training.

For the study, the volunteers used a flywheel device similar to a leg press machine to work their calf and thigh muscles. They also used a vertical treadmill.

After 60 days, the women’s muscles were measured using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.

The researchers found that volunteers in the control group lost 21 percent of the muscle mass in their quadriceps, and the nutrition group lost more than 24 percent, but the exercise group lost none.

In other words, it was found that the participants who did not exercise lost nearly half their strength after two months. Women who did not exercise and were on the high-protein diet fared even worse. But the women who exercised maintained their strength.

The analysis found that women who did not exercise lost as much as 33 percent of their strength in squat exercises and 46 percent in calf press exercises. Those who worked out maintained their strength.

“The difference in the physical condition among the three groups was undeniable,” said Scott Trappe, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie.

“It really took very little exercise to make an impact,” said Trappe.

“The total time spent exercising was less than two percent of the time they spent in bed during the entire 60-day period. In the end, a little bit of intense exercise goes a long way, he said.

The study is published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. (ANI)

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