Living on the International Space Station is often the pinnacle of many astronauts' careers, but there can be a cost. Studies show that astronauts can lose measurable amounts of muscle mass, bone mass, and cardiovascular function after long-duration stays in microgravity.
The Integrated Resistance and Aerobic Training Study, or SPRINT, uses high-intensity, low-volume exercise training in an effort to minimize these adverse effects of microgravity life for station crew members. The Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, or ARED -- an exercise device used aboard the station -- is what the crew use to meet their prescription for exercise. ARED allows for resistive exercise using vacuum cylinders to imitate free weights, which helps astronauts maintain bone and muscle strength while in microgravity.
In interviews with Bob Tweedy, NASA countermeasures system instructor, and Lori Ploutz-Snyder, Ph.D., NASA lead exercise physiology scientist, they explained the overall goals of the study. They also shared how the ARED works, including exercise types and typical routines for the astronauts. Ploutz-Snyder said, "We are trying to come up with the most efficient exercise prescription to optimize the cardiovascular system, skeletal muscle and bone."
During the Tweedy interview, NASA Public Affairs Officer Amiko Kauderer demonstrates using the ARED. Ploutz-Snyder explains, during her interview, the two-parts of the SPRINT study, including how the crew uses VO2max tests (maximum oxygen uptake) and leg muscle ultrasounds to evaluate results. Crew members also have a treadmill and a cycle onboard for exercising.