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Space Travel Can Lower Astronauts’ Fitness Level, Decrease Heart And Blood Vessel Function

First Posted: May 11, 2017 05:40 AM EDT
Human Spaceflight
Space flight can decrease the physical fitness level of astronauts, a study has found out.
(Photo : geobeats/YouTube screenshot)

Astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) or those who embark on long-duration space flights in the future can have a 30 percent to 50 percent decline in physical fitness. There is a drop down in the exercise capacity of space travelers due to the way oxygen moves through the body, a recent research has found out.

According to a Space.com report, the findings indicate that the heart and small blood vessels of astronauts are not that effective at moving oxygen to the working muscle during space flights.

“It is a dramatic decrease… when your cardiovascular function decreases, your aerobic exercise capacity goes down,” study lead author Carl Ade said, as reported by the Deccan Chronicle. “You cannot perform physically challenging activities anymore.”

Ade also added that the research data suggests there are some things occurring not only at the heart’s level but also at the level of the microcirculation inside capillaries. To conduct the study, the research team observed the performance of nine NASA astronauts who served as ISS crew for approximately six-month stints.

The study observations showed that space flyers had a 30 percent to 50 percent decrease in maximal oxygen uptake, which is the maximum rate of oxygen that is used during exercise. This also indicated the cardiorespiratory health of a person, The Indian Express reported.

According to the research team, the findings can be useful for understanding blood vessel functions in patients with heart failure or older patients. Knowing more about the subject can also help researchers come up with targeted pharmacological or exercise interventions.

Furthermore, in the future, such interventions can enable and facilitate human missions to deep space destinations such as Mars. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in February this year and adds to the knowledge that space travel takes a toll on the human body.

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