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What’s It Like to Cycle in Space?

By Monica Buck

Just as your leg muscles could deteriorate if you lay on the couch all day, the same thing could happen to them on the International Space Station. Despite the fact that the astronauts work pretty much nonstop, the absence of gravity slowly takes its toll. And while the average adult is advised to exercise around 30 minutes a few times a week, the inhabitants of the ISS exercise 90-120 minutes every day, just to keep their bone and muscle mass in a healthy condition. Their choice of workout machine? Very similar to our favourite one, it seems.

They use the CEVIS – the Cyclo Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization. It’s basically a stationary bike, fastened to one side of the ISS to make sure it doesn’t float away. Astronauts wear heart rate monitors while riding the bike and then send the data down to Earth, so their trainers can analyse it and optimise their exercising routine.

“We have a computer so if you like to listen to music, you can do that. Or watch a movie,” notes astronaut Doug Wheelock in a NASA demonstration video.

Everything seems similar to what we experience in our living rooms, but still. We’d like to give it a go. Wouldn’t you?