Space Gym

Space Gym

NASA shows you how astronauts use out-of-this-world exercise equipment.

Grades

3 - 10

Subjects

Engineering, Physics

Image

ed white spacewalk

Ed White performs first U.S. spacewalk

Photograph courtesy of NASA
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Physical fitness is an important part of being an astronaut. Astronauts must be healthy enough to conduct experiments, such as measuring the impact of long-term stays in microgravity on the human body. They must also maintain the technology of the International Space Station (ISS), satellites, or other equipment. This can mean fine-tuning electronic devices inside a rocket or the ISS. It can also mean taking a “space walk” to repair or enhance an external piece of equipment. Most importantly, working out helps to keep astronauts healthy and able to adjust to life when they’re back on Earth. In space, muscles don’t have to interact with gravity—because there is (almost) no gravity! Muscles, including the heart, can lose strength and endurance. Astronauts maintain their physical fitness using athletic equipment modified for the restraints and rigors of a microgravity environment. This NASA video shows real astronauts using exercise equipment both in space and on the ground. Watch the video to learn how astronauts work out, and how you can exercise like an astronaut using equipment in your school, gym, or home.

Fast Fact

  • Astronauts ride a CVIS (Cycle-Ergometer Vibration Isolation System), an unusual stationary bicycle, to help improve their cardio (heart) health. On Earth, we can go for a bike ride or use a regular stationary bike.

Fast Fact

  • Astronauts ride a CVIS (Cycle-Ergometer Vibration Isolation System), an unusual stationary bicycle, to help improve their cardio (heart) health. On Earth, we can go for a bike ride or use a regular stationary bike. Astronauts have to “strap in” to a CVIS, because a lack of gravity prevents them from sitting down and staying put. Special shoes also snap into CVIS’ pedals to make sure astronauts don’t just float away.

Fast Fact

  • Astronauts use an ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) to build strong muscles. Back on Earth, we can lift weights or use weightlifting machines.

Fast Fact

  • Astronauts use an ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device) to build strong muscles. Back on Earth, we can lift weights or use weightlifting machines. ARED uses air, not weights, to create resistance. (In microgravity, “weights” don’t actually weigh much of anything!) Astronauts pull against vacuum cylinders, which lack air, to create resistance and work their muscles.

Fast Fact

  • Astronauts use a TVIS (Treadmill Vibration Isolation System) to increase their endurance, so they can work for longer periods of time without feeling weak. On Earth, we can go running or use a treadmill.

Fast Fact

  • Astronauts use a TVIS (Treadmill Vibration Isolation System) to increase their endurance, so they can work for longer periods of time without getting tired. On Earth, we can go running or use a treadmill. Astronauts “strap in” to a TVIS using a series of flexible bungees. This keeps them on the treadmill. TVIS also has strong steel “treads” that won’t break and float away, putting astronauts and equipment in danger.
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Writer
National Geographic Society
Editor
Melissa MacPhee, National Geographic Society
Producer
National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

June 2, 2022

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