Study supports rowing for astronaut fitness

Collection of interesting links and online articles pertaining to rowing.
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Study supports rowing for astronaut fitness

Post by igoeja » September 29th, 2008, 8:55 pm

link to webpage: ... ut-fitness

podcast: ... 080929.mp3

text of article:

Medical researchers are refining their knowledge about what keeps astronauts in space physically fit.

Benjamin Levine: We calculated or estimated that – in order to maintain the work of the heart while your’e in spaceflight – you’d need to do about 90 minutes of cycling every day to keep the heart at its pre-spaceflight level. But that also is a lot of work. It’s a lot of exercise.

That’s Benjamin Levine, a medical researcher working with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

Benjamin Levine: We looked to the sporting world and asked, which athletes have the biggest hearts, the densest bones, the biggest muscles. And that was a pretty quick answer: it’s rowers.

Levine said that rowing is a very unique exercise. He said it’s like a combination of weight training and endurance training. Plus the blood pressure goes up high with each stroke, so it’s a good, solid workout for the heart.

Levine’s recent study combined rowing with nutritional support for test subjects spending 5 weeks on bed rest to simulate the effects of reduced gravity on the body. And it appears the rowing regimen does keep the hearts, bones and muscles of astronauts fit, while cutting the time spent on exercise by more than half.

Benjamin Levine: I think that all astronauts would benefit from rowing, but that doesn’t mean that all astronauts will like rowing. Honestly, as long as you maintain the work of the muscle, it will maintain its structure and function.

Levine mentioned that this research relates to what doctors call the Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS. This ailment primary affects young women, and it means that, when these women stand up, their hearts pound, they get headaches. The disease can be incapacitating. Currently, an exercise intervention – based on rowing – similar to that studied by Dr. Levine is being tested.

Special thanks today to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute — innovations for health in space and on Earth.

Listen to these EarthSky Clear Voices for Science podcasts:

Benjamin Levine on staying fit in space
Kim Prisk on health hazards of lunar dust

More Earth & Sky radio podcasts:

Could lunar dust be toxic to astronauts?
NASA tests inflatable lunar habitat in Antarctica

Our thanks to:

Benjamin Levine
Director, Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine
Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas
Dallas, TX

Written by Jeremy Shere

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Post by michaelb » September 29th, 2008, 10:31 pm

Thanks for that link. I like the quote: "the biggest hearts, the densest bones, the biggest muscles." I have seen other articles in the past, and I remember pictures of Soviet cosmonauts using rowing machines in space, but it seem like in the US program they moved away from using rowing machines (possibly because the astronauts didn't like to row as much as run or bike).

When I give women the sales pitch about rowing, I would really like to be able to definitively say that rowing builds bone density and can help avert osteoporosis. There was some stuff on this last year, but that seemed to suggest that running was a good as rowing. Someday maybe will get a clear answer to the Q of running vs rowing.
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