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This is how you work off festive excesses — if you’re in space

If working off all of the extra calories you consumed in recent days involves little more than lifting the remote, selecting a show to watch, and putting it back down again, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

Take a look at how current space station inhabitant Matthias Maurer is tackling the challenge and you should get a better idea about the recommended course of action to take.

Maurer, who arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) in November for a six-month stay, this week posted a video showing himself working out 250 miles above Earth.

“There’s no exception when it comes to the daily 2 hours of exercise aboard the space station,” Maurer wrote in the tweet. “This not only serves to keep us in shape after the festive treats but is important to strengthen our muscle mass & bone density in the weightless environment of space.”

There's no exception when it comes to the daily 2h of exercise aboard the @Space_Station 🏋️ This not only serves to keep us in shape after the festive treats 😉 but is important to strengthen our muscle mass & bone density in the weightless environment of space #CosmicKiss @esa

— Matthias Maurer (@astro_matthias) December 27, 2021

As Maurer points out, exercise is a vital part of an astronaut’s daily routine as the microgravity conditions mean that many muscles — particularly in the back and legs — hardly get used, a situation that can lead to the rapid deterioration.

Astronauts can use several different machines, some of which at first glance appear similar to what you might find in an Earth-based gym in the way they use resistance to maintain and build muscle.

ARED (Advanced Resistive Exercise Device), for example, uses pneumatic cylinders that create enough force to give astronauts an intense body workout.

Another machine that astronauts use is called CEVIS (Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation and Stabilization System), a specially designed “bicycle” geared toward aerobic exercise. The contraption incorporates a vibration isolation system so that its movements don’t affect any of the equipment on the station.

There’s also a treadmill, known as T2, that allows astronauts to get in some running exercise. The user has to be strapped into a harness to ensure they make contact with the surface of the treadmill instead of simply floating away.

In the video below, former ISS inhabitant Thomas Pesquet demonstrates each of the machines while explaining how they work (English subtitles available).

Space Station fitness

For more on how astronauts spend their time living and working aboard the space station, check out these interesting videos made by various visitors over the years.

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Trevor Mogg
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