Several small steps for men in spacecraft
Today is Nov 7, my 20th day aboard Tiangong II.
Many people have been asking how Jing Haipeng, my fellow astronaut, and I exercise, and how different it feels compared with exercising on Earth.
We usually do it every other day, and yesterday we mainly did cable exercises as strength training.
We have to move some objects to the return module before we start our journey backin 15days’ time, whichwill be physically demanding. To make matters worse, we have become less fit during our journey, so we need to shape up.
Our cable equipment is essentially a rubber band. I made it into a loop, hovering in midair, and tried to go through it. But I failed halfway and got it stuck around my body. Meanwhile, Jing has increased his exercise intensity and even developed a new training method for his legs.
Yesterday after supper, we donned our “penguin suits” and walked for about 3 hours and 10 minutes. Staff back on Earth insist we wear them while doing exercise, as it helps maintain our muscle and body functions in a weightless environment.
Today, we focused on cycling. As there’s only one bike, we have to alternate, with the other person doing cable exercises. Usually, we do it for 30 minutes. It is kind of tiring, as we don’t have as much strength as on Earth; it feels like riding a bike in bed. However, I felt great after the morning’s exercise.
And then there’s running — our trip marks the first time Chinese have run in space!
Actually, we were unable to adopt a proper running posture for the first two days. Jing finally got the hang of it on the third day, and he was so excited that he ran for an hour and then established contact with Earth just to tell them. Our recommended running duration is only 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, some stunts are easy in space, like somersaults and floating, while some muscles that we rarely use on Earth are more important here. For example, the upper arms are crucial for moving since we need to grasp things to pull ourselves along.
Astronaut Jing Haipeng exercises onboard Tiangong II.