A new study has found that microgravity may impose serious negative effects on astronomers’ health, especially internal organs and muscles.
According to a study conducted by an international group of physiologists, during long-term spaceflights to places where there is less gravity than Earth, like Mars and the Moon, astronauts would be exposed to low oxygen environments.
Notably, in low oxygen environments, the cells won’t be able to use oxygen to produce the energy required by muscles to enable movement. This would limit the muscle function and lead to the condition of inactivity. As per the study findings, inactivity may have a more drastic effect on skeletal muscles than low oxygen levels.
They found that impairments caused by microgravity do not really get aggravated by hypoxic stress. The research team claimed that while inactivity and hypoxia both are associated with a number of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, inactivity is worse compared to hypoxia for skeletal muscles.
For the purpose of the study, the research team analyzed the impact of 21-day long spaceflight or stay on Martian or lunar environments on the human body.
Bruno Grassi, the chief investigator of the project, said in a statement that the study results will help prepare astronauts for spaceflight. It will also help to understand how body muscles respond to long periods of inactivity in association with hypoxia.
Grassi said that future studies are required to investigate in more detail the mechanisms responsible for the observed findings. He added that the study results obtained on skeletal muscles will need to be interpreted in conjunction with the results derived from other studies of the PlanHab project (a multinational team of researchers), dealing with the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune and central nervous systems and metabolism.
The study findings have been published in The Journal of Physiology on April 17.