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Daily 30-min exposure to artificial gravity during 60 days of bed rest does not maintain aerobic exercise capacity but mitigates some deteriorations of muscle function: results from the AGBRESA RCT

Kramer, A, Venegas-Carro, M, Zange, J, Sies, W, Maffiuletti, NA, Gruber, M, Degens, H ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7399-4841, Moreno-Villanueva, M and Mulder, E (2021) Daily 30-min exposure to artificial gravity during 60 days of bed rest does not maintain aerobic exercise capacity but mitigates some deteriorations of muscle function: results from the AGBRESA RCT. European Journal of Applied Physiology. ISSN 1439-6319

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Abstract

Purpose: Spaceflight impairs physical capacity. Here we assessed the protective effect of artificial gravity (AG) on aerobic exercise capacity and muscle function during bed rest, a spaceflight analogue. Methods: 24 participants (33 ± 9 years, 175 ± 9 cm, 74 ± 10 kg, 8 women) were randomly allocated to one of three groups: continuous AG (cAG), intermittent AG (iAG) or control (CTRL). All participants were subjected to 60 days of six-degree head-down tilt bed rest, and subjects of the intervention groups completed 30 min of centrifugation per day: cAG continuously and iAG for 6 × 5 min, with an acceleration of 1g at the center of mass. Physical capacity was assessed before and after bed rest via maximal voluntary contractions, cycling spiroergometry, and countermovement jumps. Results: AG had no significant effect on aerobic exercise capacity, flexor muscle function and isometric knee extension strength or rate of force development (RFD). However, AG mitigated the effects of bed rest on jumping power (group * time interaction of the rmANOVA p < 0.001; iAG − 25%, cAG − 26%, CTRL − 33%), plantar flexion strength (group * time p = 0.003; iAG − 35%, cAG − 31%, CTRL − 48%) and plantar flexion RFD (group * time p = 0.020; iAG − 28%, cAG − 12%, CTRL − 40%). Women showed more pronounced losses than men in jumping power (p < 0.001) and knee extension strength (p = 0.010). Conclusion: The AG protocols were not suitable to maintain aerobic exercise capacity, probably due to the very low cardiorespiratory demand of this intervention. However, they mitigated some losses in muscle function, potentially due to the low-intensity muscle contractions during centrifugation used to avoid presyncope.

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