Exercise Training Mitigates Multisystem Deconditioning during Bed Rest

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Abstract

Introduction

This study investigated the safety and effectiveness of a new integrated aerobic and resistance exercise training prescription (SPRINT) using two different sets of exercise equipment: a suite of large International Space Station–like exercise equipment similar to what is found on the International Space Station and a single device with aerobic and resistance exercise capability in the spaceflight analog of bed rest (BR).

Methods

Subjects (n = 34) completed 70 d of 6° head down tilt BR: 9 were randomized to remain sedentary (CONT), 9 to exercise training using traditional equipment (EX), 8 to exercise using traditional equipment and low-dose testosterone supplementation (ExT), and 8 to exercise using a combined resistance and aerobic flywheel device. Peak aerobic capacity, ventilatory threshold, cardiac morphology and function (echocardiography), muscle mass (magnetic resonance imaging) and strength/power (isokinetic, leg press, and vertical jump), and bone health (bone mineral density, blood and urine bone markers) were assessed before and after BR.

Results

The SPRINT protocol mitigated BR-induced muscle and cardiac deconditioning regardless of the exercise device used. Molecular markers of bone did not change in the CONT or EX groups. Peak aerobic capacity was maintained from pre- to post-BR in all exercise groups similarly, whereas significant declines were observed in the CONT group (~10%). Significant interaction effects between the CONT group and all EX groups were observed for muscle performance including leg press total work, isokinetic upper and lower leg strength, vertical jump power, and maximal jump height as well as muscle size.

Conclusions

This is the first trial to evaluate multisystem deconditioning and the role of an integrated exercise countermeasure. These findings have important implications for the design and implementation of exercise-based countermeasures on future long-duration spaceflight missions.

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