Now a gym to tend to cramped muscles in space

May 10th, 2008 - 4:45 pm ICT by admin  

London, May 10 (IANS) Astronauts often complain of cramped muscles and pain in the bones after spending a long time in space. But a gym developed by a Swedish university could take care of their problems in flight. Weightlessness atrophies the muscles and decalcifies the skeleton. It doesn’t help to “pump iron” as barbells and dumb bells are also weightless on a space voyage.

However, Per Tesch and colleagues at Mid Sweden University have found a solution that functions like a reverse yo-yo. The inertia of a rotating flywheel is exploited to create resistance.

The astronaut velcros himself in place and pulls a cord that is connected to the flywheel. The wheel only weighs a couple of kilos, but its diameter makes the inertia considerable, and the load on the muscles and skeleton is at least as great as in weight training.

Tesch researched the topic for 15 years after being commissioned by both the Swedish National Space Board and NASA. The ‘yo-yo’ is now being tested in space for first time and was recently delivered by the US space shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS).

“It’s fantastic. I have been working a long time for this,” said Tesch.

But he hasn’t received any reports about how it’s going. “It’s still secret, but we’ll know in a few months,” he said.

Tesch’s findings in space physiology will be put to use in developing training methods for sports, exercise and rehabilitation.

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