Astronauts spend over half their time in space exercising. The importance of exercise in weightless gravity slows muscle and bone growth. The goal of the astronaut is to keep their muscle tone and they use a variety of methods to slow down the degenerating causes of weightless space travel. The exercise programs that are now being experimented with during shuttle missions and space station stays are fairly basic but new exercise programs will be needed in future space exploration.
Treadmills and stationary bikes allow astronauts some restrictive exercise while in space. Resistance training consist of harnesses and restraints that keep the astronaut grounded and apply some resistance as they work against the pressures that give them a sense of gravity. Though these exercises are different than they are on Earth, they still allow an astronauts body some benefit when keeping their muscles and bones healthy.
Astronauts spend close to two and a half hours everyday exercising in space. They do these exercises to enhance the red cell blood counts to keep oxygenated blood flowing through their bodies. If they did not exercise to keep up these blood counts their bodies would become to weak to do their jobs in space. They would in all aspects become a danger to themselves and the crew if crisis happened during a mission.
There are three major exercises that astronauts do while in space.
1) Cycle Ergo meter: This bicycle apparatus is mainly for pedaling and keeping circulation of the blood which produces oxygenated blood through out the body. A good source for building plasma enriched cells to bones and muscle tissue in the body.
2) treadmill: Walking or jogging on the treadmill allows muscle stimulation that keeps muscle tone and bones healthy by offering resistance to the physical structure of the body. Using weights and restraints to weight the body down gives the body some gravity to keep muscles and bones strong while in space.
3) Resistance Exercise Device: This apparatus looks like a weight lifting machine you may have in your own home but to use it a astronaut has to twist and pull the rubber-band like cords attached to pulleys to get the greatest amount of tension. It can be used for squats and bending exercises for the arms legs and allows the astronaut a full body workout.
Staying fit in space travel will have to be one of the main concerns of astronauts in space travel. The fragile human body is designed for gravity here on Earth and not for space. Learning how to stay healthy in a dangerous environment will keep astronauts in future space expeditions aware of the hazards of non-exercise in microgravity and help us understand the reason why it is so important.