It seems astronauts hovering in weightless environments and earthlings reclining in front of the TV share a surprising trait: both avoid the effects of gravity — and both age rapidly as a result.
Now a unique joint venture between Canada’s health-research and space agencies is investigating the parallels between space flight and terrestrial aging, hoping to find ways to prevent the ill effects of each.
Astronauts and inactive older people suffer similar bone loss, muscle atrophy, blood-vessel changes and even fainting spells, say scientists, and their respective conditions can provide lessons for both domains.
Space flight is the ultimate in sedentary lifestyle
“To me, there really are a lot of overlaps,” said Richard Hughson, a University of Waterloo expert on vascular aging and brain health. “Space flight is the ultimate in sedentary lifestyle. When you’re up in space, you’re floating around, when you want to move a heavy object, you just give it a little push and away it goes.”