Live Long and Prosper
Anti-ageing efforts in space research gathering pace after last year’s impromptu yoga
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Yoga keeps you young! After astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was photographed attempting yoga in space last year, serious efforts to explore anti-ageing in a zero-gravity environment are gaining momentum.
Space brings a whole new dimension to ‘drifting off’ in Savasana — without any gravity, peaceful practitioners quite literally drift off!
Cristoforetti posted a photo of herself at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022 doing a simple triangle pose, telling her Instagram followers: “Who says you can’t do yoga in space!”
She also referenced Cosmic Kids Yoga (cosmickids.com), who helped work out a yoga plan for her time on board the ISS. It’s a little-known fact but ageing accelerates once you leave the safety of Mother Earth.
Space microgravity causes a reduction in the skeletal muscle and bone mass in astronauts similar to that which happens during the ageing process on Earth — but at a much faster rate.
Science boffins want to explore ways to counter the process, not only to help future astronauts, but also in the hope that lessons and breakthroughs can be applied back on Earth.
Cambridge firm Lycotec (lycotec.com) specialises in the development of diagnostic-based nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and functional food products to slow down or reverse metabolic and physiological changes in the body associated with ageing.
Its proposal for an anti-ageing study was presented this year at the 12th International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Seattle, organised by NASA, the ISS US National Laboratory, and the American Astronautical Society.
The company reckons space provides a unique opportunity to test the efficacy of new nutraceutical or functional food products which can improve or treat changes such as loss of skeletal muscle and bone mass within months, rather than years, of terrestrial anti-ageing trials.
“Testing products in an accelerating ageing microgravity environment may not only help to find solutions to help astronauts to live and work longer in space, but could be a leap forward in anti-ageing medicine aiming to support health in terrestrial ageing and potentially expand our longevity,” says Dr Ivan Petyaev, Lycotec’s founder.
In normal planetary conditions, yoga is renowned for building strength, flexibility and improving posture, and could assist future spacemen and women to navigate some of the challenges of cramped conditions and zero gravity.
For now, if you want to know what it might feel like to do yoga in space then why not seek out an aerial yoga class near you, where you’ll be suspended in hammocks and, at least partially, released from the clutches of gravity for an hour or so.