Life in space presents astronauts with deconditioning effects caused by the absence of Earth's gravity, such as loss of bone density; reduced circulating blood volume; decreased muscle strength, endurance, vision impairment, and sensory-motor function (i.e. balance); and reductions in aerobic capacity. Through the use of ground-based analogs, scientists at USRA's Division of Space Life Sciences are able to test countermeasures, such as nutrition, pharmacotherapeutics, and exercise, in an efficient and cost-effective manner prior to using techniques in space.
The Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Project and the Flight Analogs Project, both led by USRA scientists, have combined forces to evaluate the effectiveness of high intensity exercise as a countermeasure to the physiologic losses associated with bed rest. A similar exercise program will be tested as a countermeasure against loss of muscle mass and function, cardiovascular fitness, and bone health onboard the International Space Station.