Fantastic to meet astronaut Chris Hadfield!

For the past year I have been working on a European Space Agency funded bed rest study in the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne. This study involved 24 people literally staying in bed for 60 days. Sound like fun?? They could not leave the DLR research centre for the duration of the study or have visitors. They had to eat, sleep, shower, undergo testing etc. in bed. They had a 6 degree downward head tilt in bed and always had to have one shoulder in contact with the bed, so no sitting up! Still sound like fun?? So I am a metabolic researcher and our group is particularly interested in the effects of 60 days of bed rest on the size and function of muscle tissue, the size and function of fat tissue, and metabolic health. My quick summary of our findings for you is that physical inactivity is not good for the body and we must find every opportunity in the day to be active! The reason we do best rest studies is because it closely mimics what happens to astronauts in space. In space there is no gravity pressing down on the body (similar to bed rest) and because of this the astronauts body adapts negatively to these conditions. Astronauts in space lose muscle mass and bone mass, gain fat mass, and experience a whole host of other issues in the body including with fluid shifts (puffy faces) and problems with vision and metabolic health, to mention a few. We investigate these changes in bed rest and we create countermeasures to counteract these negative changes e.g. novel exercise and diet interventions that can be performed in space. The goal is to find ways to prevent their bodies from breaking down in space so that they can stay there for longer and do greater exploration without harm. I have attached a picture of our latest bed rest study in Cologne below. Interestingly, the changes we observe in bed rest reflect the changes we see in the ageing and very inactive populations here on earth. The best advice I could give to you for a long and healthy life is to stay active! This research is fascinating to me so when I heard that Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was coming to Ireland to talk about his space missions I just had to go! It was a fantastic talk and very inspirational. Chris talked a lot about making our dreams become a reality, and putting the right steps in place to ensure their become a reality. This is something we constantly talk about in True Fitness. The added bonus was getting to meet him afterwards and he really is a great guy. Thanks for a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon Chris! So that is a quick summary of the human space research that I am involved in, I hope you found it interesting 🙂

Chris Hadfield 2

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