'Wall of death' workout on the moon could keep lunar settlers in shape

By John Mercury May 1, 2024

Running around a ‘wall of death’ could keep people healthy on the moon, according to new research.

Scientists at the University of Milan tied people to bungee cords to replicate lunar gravity and asked them to run around a rented ‘wall of death’, which they had loaned from an amusement park.

The test subjects needed to run fast enough to prevent themselves skidding down the wall which is usually impossible on Earth. With the reduced gravity created by the bungee cords, they were able to stick to the wall for multiple laps.

The exercise had a high enough impact that “just twice a day, for three or four laps” would be enough to keep astronauts’ muscles and bones healthy on the moon, researcher Professor Alberto Minetti told Sky News.

“We were very surprised,” added Professor Minetti.

Exercise on the moon has concerned researchers for years. The reduced gravity up there means astronauts’ muscles are bearing 83% less body weight than on Earth.

Without all that load-bearing, astronauts risk their fitness levels dropping, their muscles atrophying, and symptoms similar to osteoporosis developing as their bones become brittle.

Signs of this are sometimes visible when they land back on Earth after a stint in the International Space Station and need help to stand up or walk.

US astronaut Chris Cassidy is carried shortly after landing in Kazakhstan after 166 days on the International Space Station. Pic: AP
US astronaut Chris Cassidy is carried away upon landing in Kazakhstan after 166 days on the International Space Station. Pic: AP

Professor Minetti, Francesco Luciano, Valentina Natalucci and Gaspare Pavei wanted to find a “time and cost-effective way” to stay fit on the moon and the ‘wall of death’ might be surprisingly practical.

Although its shape isn’t common here on Earth, some of the housing planned for the moon is circular, according to Professor Minetti, and around the right diameter for the ‘wall of death’ workout.

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That would mean few extra materials would need to be lugged up there as the astronauts could just run around the walls of their homes.

“In theory, there would be no extra electricity, no extra space and it would not interfere too much with the work of the astronauts and the other activities,” he said.

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The Artemis mission, led by NASA, will involve the building of a permanent camp on the moon.

“Early missions will include short-surface stays, but as the base camp evolves, the goal is to allow crew to stay at the lunar surface for up to two months at a time,” according to NASA’s Artemis website.

The astronauts there will be working towards the first mission to send humans to Mars, as well as exploring how life can be sustained on the moon.


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