Exercise-training protocols for astronauts in microgravity

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989 Dec;67(6):2191-204. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1989.67.6.2191.


The question of the composition of exercise protocols for use by astronauts in microgravity is unresolved. Based on our knowledge of physical working requirements for astronauts during intra- and extravehicular activity and on the findings from bed-rest studies that utilized exercise training as a countermeasure for the reduction of aerobic power, deterioration of muscular strength and endurance, decrements in mood and cognitive performance, and possibly for bone loss, two exercise protocols are proposed. One assumes that, during microgravity, astronaut exercise physiological functions should be maintained at 100% of ground-based levels; the other assumes that maximal aerobic power in flight can be reduced by 10% of the ground-based level. A recommended prescription for in-flight prevention or partial suppression of calcium (bone) loss cannot be written until further research findings are obtained that elucidate the site, the magnitude, and the mechanism of the changes. Hopefully these proposed exercise prescriptions will stimulate further research and discussion resulting in even more efficient protocols that will help ensure the optimal health and well-being of our astronauts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Space Flight*