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1973. The Skylab 3 mission returns from a successful 59-day mission to space. The crew of three members left Earth in July and spent almost two months on board of Skylab, the American space station. Now, on the brink of September, Alan Bean, Owen Garriott and Jack Lousma are cheered by the public and scientists alike: they successfully made it back, doubling the then-record of a human stay in space.


What makes the doctors who greet the crew especially happy is the fact the astronauts are in a noticeably better physical condition than the crews of previous Skylab missions. How is that possible? Well, it turns out that what works on Earth, works in space. A regular exercise and, to our great excitement, cycling, played a major role in the good health of our dear astronauts.

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This Skylab-3 onboard photograph shows Astronaut Allen Bean on the ergometer, breathing into the metabolic analyzer. Skylab's Metabolic Activity experiment (M171), a medical evaluation facility, was designed to measure astronauts' metabolic changes while on long-term space missions. The experiment obtained information on astronauts' physiological capabilities and limitations and provided data useful in the design of future spacecraft and work programs. Physiological responses to physical activity was deduced by analyzing inhaled and exhaled air, pulse rate, blood pressure, and other selected variables of the crew while they performed controlled amounts of physical work with a bicycle ergometer. Image credit to @nasa Edited in @picsart Taken on January 1st, 1973 #nasa #nasasocial #space #science #astro #astronaut #astronomy #astronomyfilms #spacetravel #spaceship #rocketship #spacestation #iss #internationalspacestation #spaceman #spacesuit #scientist #apolloprogram #apollo12 #alanbean #lunarmodule #commandmodule #moonlanding #skylab #skylab3 #training #lifemagazine #1970s #vintage #20thcentury

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Explore space, do some science, and don’t forget your daily cycling!

The Skylab 3 crew lead by commander Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the Moon, was assigned to carry out medical experiments helping the scientists understand the adaption and re-adaptation of the human body exposed to the out-of-the-ordinary conditions as a space flight can represent. An important feature of the tests turned out to be exercise. And here comes the bike part.

For about an hour a day, the members pedalled towards a greater understanding of human physiology, space, and universe. Not outside Skylab, to our disappointment, as we would love to see pictures of an astronaut merrily cycling in the orbit. The crews’ routine, however, turned out to be more static and in fact involved a lot of tubes and devices hooked to the body and the stationary bicycle.

Alan Bean
Alan Bean in his sleep compartment. © Profimedia

If you stick to your routine, you will beat the other astronauts!

Aside from scientific purposes, all of the exercise plans were created in an effort to prevent the astronauts’ bodies from becoming too lazy in the weightless environment. And as a series of medical examinations showed upon the arrival of the crew, the effort paid off.

Our takeaway from the story is pretty straightforward: exercise and cycling are really good for you. Even in the strangest and most unusual moments of your life. Approved and verified by the members of NASA. Don’t believe us? Check out this documentary: