Train Like An Astronaut: Do you have what it takes?

Do you have what it takes to Train Like An Astronaut?

Do you have what it takes to Train Like An Astronaut?

By: Catherine Lowe, SCI Education Coordinator

What does it take to become an astronaut? I would guess if you asked most people, they would respond with, “Intelligence,” or perhaps, “Patience.” Physical fitness is not always the first thing people think of. However, it is a key ingredient in succeeding in space. Astronauts need to be in peak physical condition even before they journey into space to help combat the muscle loss and changes their bodies will experience in a micro-gravity environment.

Right now, as you sit on our great planet Earth reading this, your body is working. Gravity is pulling you down, and your body is using muscles to keep you sitting upright. While in space, the bodies of astronauts are no longer working against that force, which in turn, causes them to lose muscle strength and coordination.Coordination is using your muscles to move your body the way you want it to move.

Another big change between Earth and space is a human’s ability to balance. We all have tiny organs in our ears that are filled with a liquid that communicates to our brains whether we are right-side-up or upside-down. In space, the liquid isn’t held down by gravity – it sort of just floats around in there. During the first few days of space flight, astronauts experience a change in their spatial awareness and sense of balance. Even after returning to Earth, their brain has to relearn how to use information from their eyes, muscles and the organs in their ears to help control their body movement.

All of this means that it is incredibly important that astronauts are in peak physical condition before leaving Earth and that they continue a fitness routine while in space. NASA recently released information and videos sharing some of the training exercises astronauts perform before going to space. SCI has decided to join in on the fun and offer our newest program, Train Like an Astronaut.

Train Like an Astronaut will feature physical fitness activities straight from NASA, videos of astronauts in action and a discussion about eating healthy. I am so excited because this is something totally different from the programs we traditionally offer. This program is part of the Let’s Move! initiative launched by the First Lady Michelle Obama, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity through education and interactive activities.

Train Like an Astronaut premiers this Saturday, June 16, at 1 pm and is free with general admission to SCI. It also will be offered July 21 and August 18. The program will last 30 minutes and is open to astronauts of all ages. If you’ll be joining us, an RSVP is encouraged to catherine.lowe@sciowa.org. I hope to see you there!

Catherine Lowe is SCI’s Education Coordinator. As part of her job, Catherine travels the state visiting libraries, schools and communities sharing interactive science presentations. When not driving across Iowa, she works to develop new programs and exhibit guides. Catherine studied elementary education at Iowa State University. She has worked at SCI since February 2011, when she started as a Programs Presenter.