Just What is the Importance of Exercise to Your Health? Just Ask an Astronaut!

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eHealth-December-10-2015_web_NewmanMaybe living on Mars isn’t such a great idea after all. At least, not if you want to avoid some major health issues. We can actually learn a lot about health and the importance of exercise in health from astronauts and space travel, believe it or not.

Have you ever wondered why the government spends so much money on space exploration? I mean really; how does that affect the majority of us? Down here on earth we have enough problems as it is!

Astronauts Prove Importance of Exercise to Health

Well, yesterday I read a very insightful article that I have to tell you about. A Canadian researcher is looking at the health implications of space travel, and his findings show that astronauts who return from space experience stiffer arteries, insulin resistance, weakness, bone fragility, poor coordination, and balance issues. Space travel seems to have aged these astronauts by a good 20 to 30 years!

Now, sure, you’re probably not likely to get on a space ship anytime soon, but these details are more applicable to us earthlings than you might think.

The Reason Astronauts Become Unhealthy

One of the reasons astronauts experience such a rapid degradation in their overall health is that they are almost completely inactive during their time in space. They float around without gravity, putting very little, if any, stress on their bodies. Ultimately, this results in weakness, when their bodies basically say, “Okay, we’re not needed so let’s shut down.”

The conditions astronauts experience are virtually identical to what happens to you as you age; it just happens at a rapid pace. Which is why exercise is so important.

What Exercise Really Does for You

Exercise, whether aerobic or resistance training, brings your body to life and slows down natural degenerative processes. It strengthens your heart by pumping more blood, which aids in keeping veins and arteries flexible. This helps to prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Furthermore, exercise keeps your muscles strong so they don’t waste away thus leading to poor balance, less resilience, and increased risk for falls and broken bones. Exercise can also increase bone density, which is also important in avoiding nasty fractures and osteoporosis.

Insulin sensitivity is also affected by exercise because it requires the use of glycogen stores for energy use. Therefore, your metabolism becomes more efficient in utilizing and absorbing dietary sugar—a major deterrent against metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

How Astronauts—and You—Can Avoid Dangers of Inactivity

Some astronauts exercise for up to two hours per day when in space to combat the massive health dangers they face, but it’s still not enough to stop the decline. Of course here on earth you don’t have to spend that much time exercising. After all, gravity exists on this planet; for example, you still have to get up out of bed to walk to the bathroom. And if you can go out for a walk three or four times a week and try some of the exercises we talk about on the Doctors Health Press web site, you can really slow down the aging process, drastically improve your health, and avoid an early experience of the final frontier.

Source for Today’s Article:
“Space Flight Speeds Aging Effects on Astronaut’s Arteries,” CBC web site, last updated December 4, 2015; http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/astonaut-arteries-space-flight-1.3351472, last accessed December 8, 2015.


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Adrian Newman, B.A.

About the Author, Browse Adrian's Articles

Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »