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Exercising in Space

Exercising in Space

Are you hoping to get to the gym more often in 2016? While you work out on Earth, here are a few ways that astronauts stay fit on the International Space Station.


Exercise is an important part of the daily routine for astronauts aboard the International Space Station to prevent bone and muscle loss, and to maintain cardiovascular health. On average, astronauts exercise two hours per day. The equipment they use in space is different than what we use on Earth.

Lifting 200 pounds on Earth may be a lot of work, but in microgravity a 200 pound dumbbell would not weigh anything. Therefore, free weights do not serve as a good strength training tool for the astronauts in space.  That means exercise equipment needs to be specifically designed for use in space so astronauts will receive the workout needed.

What Equipment Do They Use in Space?

Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED)


The ARED hardware uses adjustable resistance piston-driven vacuum cylinders along with a flywheel system to simulate free-weight exercises in normal gravity. It’s primary goal is to maintain muscle strength and bone mass in astronauts during long periods in space.

Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation System (CEVIS)


CEVIS is very similar to a mechanical bicycle. It’s bolted to the floor, and astronauts snap their shoes on to the pedals. A seat belt can be used to hold them in position, and they can change the resistance for varying levels of difficulty.

Russian Treadmill (BD-2)


BD-2 is the treadmill that is found in the Russian segment of the space station. It allows crew members to walk and run with a speed from 2.4 to 20 km/hr. 

Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT)


COLBERT is the second generation U.S. treadmill on the space station. It features data collection devices that will allow scientists and doctors to evaluate how effective the exercise is in reducing the amount of bone and muscle density loss due to microgravity exposure. It allows crew members to walk and run with a speed from 4.8 to 20 km/hr. 

Why is it called COLBERT? 


The treadmill’s name was selected after comedian Stephen Colbert took interest in our online naming poll for Node 3 of space station. He urged his viewers to submit the name “Colbert.” Although we ended up choosing the suggested name “Tranquillity” for the node, we designated its new treadmill “COLBERT” in honor of the name that received the most entries.

VELO Ergomoeter Bike (VB-3)


VB-3 is used for aerobic training, medical tests and pedaling regimes. It is located in the Russian segment of the space station. 

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