Exercise as a countermeasure to psycho-physiological deconditioning during long-term confinement.

Research paper by Stefan S Schneider, Vera V Brümmer, Heather H Carnahan, Jens J Kleinert, Maria Francesca MF Piacentini, Romain R Meeusen, Heiko K HK Strüder

Indexed on: 30 Mar '10Published on: 30 Mar '10Published in: Behavioural Brain Research


Confinement studies are performed to simulate the psychological effects that may be experienced on a long-term space flight. A general psycho-physiological model assumes that mood and cognitive functioning are impaired during confinement as a result of an absence of physical activity. The aim of the MARS500 study initiated by the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) and the European Space Agency (ESA) is to gather data, knowledge and experience to help prepare for a real mission to Mars. A test run with 105 days of isolation was performed prior to 520 days of isolation. Psycho-physiological data of this study are presented here. We hypothesized that exercise, as it has been shown in laboratory settings, would be able to prevent and counteract mood changes during isolation. Electrocortical data (EEG) and a self report on current psychological and physical state were recorded several times prior to and after exercise during the isolation period. Data revealed a clear effect of exercise on mood and electrocortical activity. Moreover, it was shown that mood and brain cortical activity decreased during the first 11 weeks of isolation and reached baseline again in the last week of isolation. A correlation analysis revealed a significant relation between mood data and electrocortical activity. We conclude (1) that confinement is accompanied by psycho-physiological changes and (2) that exercise is a suitable method to counteract psycho-physiological deconditioning during confinement.