Journal of Trainology



January 2012; Vol. 1, No. 1: Pages 1-5

Potential exercise countermeasures to attenuate skeletal muscle deterioration in space

Jeremy P. Loenneke, Jacob M. Wilson, Michael G. Bemben


Exposure to a zero gravity (g) environment has led to atrophy of both whole muscle and single muscle fibers. Previous research suggests that this is due to inadequate levels of exercise intensity and that greater loading is needed to counteract the deleterious effects of microgravity on skeletal muscle. Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to analyze both structural and functional microgravity related alternations in skeletal muscle tissue, and the mechanisms which underlie these effects. Most importantly however we review a novel countermeasure which may attenuate skeletal muscle deconditioning in space.  Design and Methods: Non systematic review. Results: Recent research with blood flow restriction (BFR) training suggests that BFR in combination with equipment already used in zero g may result in more favorable skeletal muscle outcomes than the methods currently used. BFR exercise is potentially beneficial because the muscular adaptations occur in the absence of higher loads. Conclusion: For any long duration flight in space to be successful, more effective exercise countermeasures will need to be developed and implemented. Based on research completed on Earth, it may be possible for BFR exercise to attenuate muscle function declines in a zero g environment because BFR exercise is not dependent upon higher exercise loads.

Received November 11, 2011; accepted December 1, 2011