How Does Your Body React to Being in Space?

Andrey Armyagov/

Ah space, the final frontier. Most of us will not be lucky enough to get there but some will. In fact, we are told that many future generations will be able to vacation to space. Whether it is on your list of things to do in life or not, it is still amazing to watch astronauts go into space and spend time there to understand the world. Living in space is not easy and has a huge impact on your body. Let’s dive in to find out more.

You get weaker

It is no surprise that astronauts are in incredible physical shape when they are about to go to space but what is surprising is the shape they come home in. Space travel leads to loss of muscle mass and strength. It is like an accelerated version of doing nothing. This decrease happens even if you follow a strong exercise routine. It is your body adapting to the conditions. Data suggests that a trip of over 110 days would reduce your muscle strength by at least 30%. 

Your heart gets weaker

We don’t often realize the important role gravity plays in every facet of our lives. Keep your legs above your heart for twenty minutes and watch how the blood flows out of them leaving you numb. If you mess with gravity you will find similar strange results. The work rate of the heart is reduced and redistribution of the blood is reduced, meaning more blood stays in your legs. 

You are less fit

Based on the two above facts; less strength and less cardiovascular ability, you will lose fitness quickly. 

You lose bone

Data shows that you can lose 3.5% of bone after around 16 weeks of space travel. This is again due to changes in gravity and the load being placed on your body. The pelvis and legs, the main weight-bearing bones, are the first to suffer as they are used to, and rely on, mechanical loading.

Your immune system suffers

To add to the difficulties in your body, your immune system will also suffer. The increased radiation, stress, isolation, and change to your sleeping patterns all contribute. An infection in a space shuttle is the last thing you want as if you get sick everyone will get sick and it will take a long time to cure as there is no escape. 

Space travel is tough. If you weren’t aware of how hard it is on your body you are now. The people who undergo these tasks are not just incredibly bright and physically strong, they are mentally resilient to understand the task they are facing and the impact it will have on them.