Astronaut exercise prescriptions promoting health and fitness on earth
Muscle disuse, as a result of aging, inactivity or disease is a significant health issue in the civilized world. Research results have clearly shown that resistance exercise can offset or blunt many associated negative effects of disuse on muscle, bone and other vital, organ systems. Space, or more specifically microgravity, offers a unique environment as a research laboratory, and allows for both mechanistic and time-course studies of skeletal muscle in healthy individuals. Similar to muscle disuse on earth, chronic exposure to the microgravity environment provokes skeletal muscle atrophy, and metabolic and neuromuscular dysfunction.
Ultimately, the overall goal of the A-fit project is to explore the effects of in-flight exercise regimens, using a non-gravity dependent device, during long-duration missions on the International Space Station (ISS). Prior to these experiments, a series of ground-based studies validate the efficacy and feasibility of unique exercise technology in healthy, injured, diseased or old populations. Collectively, the outcome of these efforts, and the research conducted within the frame work of A-fit, will be important in deciding on the final design of exercise hardware, and equally important, exercise prescriptions, for space travelers. These results will also aid in understanding how disused skeletal muscle, and other tissues and organ systems, respond to chronic resistance exercise and further, how skeletal muscle adapts to concurrent aerobic and resistance exercise. Finally, the A-fit research program will produce results that advance terrestrial applications using novel exercise technology. The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded the Karolinska Institute contract to coordinate the A-fit (Astronaut exercise prescriptions promoting health and fitness on earth) research program. Headed by Dr. Per Tesch, the multi-national A-fit team, involving six academic partners or affiliations will conduct joint, or complementary research towards a common goal. Serving as business partner is R&D company YoYoTM Technology AB (Inc).