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Daniel L. Belavý, Ulf Gast, Martin Daumer, Elena Fomina, Rainer Rawer, Hans Schießl, Stefan Schneider, Harald Schubert, Cristina Soaz, Dieter Felsenberg

To understand whether prolonged confinement results in reductions in physical activity and adaptation in the musculoskeletal system, six subjects were measured during 520 d isolation in the Mars500 study. We tested the hypothesis that physical activity reduces in prolonged confinement and that this would be associated with decrements of neuromuscular performance. Physical activity, as measured by average acceleration of the body’s center of mass (“activity temperature”) using the actibelt® device, decreased progressively over the course of isolation (p<0.00001). Concurrently, countermovement jump power and single-leg hop force decreased during isolation (p<0.001) whilst grip force did not change p≥0.14). Similar to other models of inactivity, greater decrements of neuromuscular performance occurred in the lower-limb than in the upper-limb. Subject motivational state increased non-significantly (p = 0.20) during isolation, suggesting reductions in lower-limb neuromuscular performance were unrelated to motivation. Overall, we
conclude that prolonged confinement is a form of physical inactivity and is associated with adaptation in the neuromuscular system.