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Train Like An Astronaut: Building an Astronaut "Core"
September 4, 2012


Mission Question:

How can you perform a physical activity that will improve abdominal and back muscles?

Back and abdominal muscles are known as the core muscles. They protect your spine, maintain proper posture, and transfer energy through your body for powerful movements such as swinging and throwing. These muscles work together as you sit up or lie down in bed, turn your body, pick up an object, and stand still. Core muscles also work together to maintain posture while wearing a heavy backpack.


Crew Member Mission:

Students will:

  • perform the Commander Crunch and Pilot Plank exercises to improve the strength in abdominal and back muscles.
  • record your observations about improvements in core muscle strength during this physical experience in your Mission Journal.


Educational Resources

› Mission Handout (PDF)
› Mission Handout en Español (PDF)
› Adapted Physical Activity Strategies Handout (PDF)
› Educator Guide (PDF)
› Mission Journal instructions (PDF)
› Mission Journal instructions en Español (PDF)

Youtube Override: 
NASA astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Kjell Lindgren describe the need for astronauts in space to have strong core muscles, while astronaut trainer Yamil Garcia walks you through the "Commander Crunch" and "Pilot Plank" exercises.
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These "mission assignments" for students, available in English and Spanish, give detailed instructions for each activity as well as more advanced challenges, related NASA facts and safety guidelines. Educator Guides offer lesson plans, background information, and instructional procedures.
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Page Last Updated: July 21st, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator