Uninspired to do another at-home workout? After speaking to the European Space Agency, Rachael Martin discovered the calorie-burning exercise that keeps astronauts fit when a million miles from the gym.
While loo roll was flying off the supermarket shelves faster than it could be restocked last month, so too were dumbbells, yoga mats and other at-home workout essentials as fitness-conscious Aussies worried about how they were going to stay in shape without being able to hit the gym during lockdown.
With one in 10 Australians living in apartments or units, the concern about how to exercise within the four walls of own homes was real.
However, as lockdown restrictions begin to lift across Australia and hopeful gym-goers await the announcement from the government that outdoor training sessions can be taken indoors once again, perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty to jump back on the treadmill or sweat it out in Spin class.
Virtual yoga sessions, at home HIIT workouts and lifting weights in the yard were all lifelines during lockdown, but the real key to keeping fit and losing weight by exercising at home is even more accessible than that.
You don’t need expensive exercise gear or a gym membership, either.
For the key to exercising effectively but cheaply at home, we need to look a little further afield. 384,400 km further away to be exact – as the answer lies with astronauts in space.
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
Why astronauts hold the key to the most effective at-home exercises
Experts at living life in a much smaller space than most of us could ever dream of, the modern day spaceman – or woman – has many more factors to contend with when it comes to keeping fit than your average Australian – and they’ve nailed it too.
Physical exercise can account for as much as a quarter of an astronaut’s day on the International Space Station and knowing how to keep fit in a confined space isn’t just a bonus, it’s a necessary skill for survival.
As a result, even more effective and efficient space workouts are constantly being researched and trialled for those heading off to spend time in outer space.
It was during one of these most recent studies that researches discovered “one of the oldest activities in the world” could be the most effective in not only keeping astronauts fit in space, but help keep us in shape on the cheap down here on earth too.
From outer space to your living room
According to a recent study funded by The European Space Agency (ESA), jumping could be key to keeping fit and burning fat if you are limited on exercise space or don’t have lots of equipment to hand.
Yup, the humble act of jumping – either with a skipping rope or without – is the simple answer to effective weight loss without any expensive equipment or access to a gym.
Jonathan Scott, medical projects and technology team lead at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre, says that while there is nothing “new or clever” about the idea of jumping to keep fit, there is no denying that as a simple form of exercise it is “remarkably effective.”
Tobias Weber, also from the ESA, says that while their research looks specifically at keeping astronauts fit in space, the findings of their study can be applied to anyone looking to keep fit at home.
“This simple exercise can provide a fun but effective way to help keep our musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems fit,” he observes, whilst also recommending a “daily dose of simple ‘old-school’ rope skipping” as an effective exercise routine to keep fit.
Is jumping really better than hitting the gym?
While other forms of exercise such as strength training, HIIT training or cycling do undoubtedly keep you fit too, Jonathan points out in the study that the body doesn’t register the difference between skipping or jumping and other forms of exercise.
So whether you’re shelling out dollars every month for that gym pass or jumping in your front room, it’s going to have the same affect on your musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary systems.
“Jumping seems to provide the right level of stimulus to many different systems,” Jonathan says.
When it comes to astronauts keeping fit in space, he’ll be doing further research into how this study can be applied in future missions: “If we scale it back to what is essential for future missions, this one exercise targets the areas required to keep physically healthy while addressing challenges we face such as a lack of time, lack of space and less access to equipment.”
However, as we ease out of lockdown here on planet earth, there’s nothing to stop you from putting off that return to the gym and every reason to give skipping a go – just maybe give your neighbours downstairs a heads up first!