Research Finds Gender Differences in Effects of Space Flight on Muscles

A new study by researchers at NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute finds that women astronauts lose more strength and muscle mass and have a longer post-spaceflight mission recovery time than male astronauts.

hunter180Sandra Hunter, an associate professor of exercise science at Marquette University in Milwaukee and an expert on gender-based neuromuscular research, was a member of the research team. “Our review found that space flight in general resulted in marked reductions in muscle strength and power, as much as 20 to 30 percent in two to three months,” Dr. Hunter says. “There’s evidence that women have even greater losses of muscle strength and mass than men when talking about the effects of space flight.”

“Our findings indicate that much more research is required to fully understand sex differences in response to muscle loss,” Dr. Hunter continued. “But it also shows that there are definite differences that will be apparent.”

Dr. Hunter holds a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in exercise and sports science from the University of Sydney in Australia.

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