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We’re all living like astronauts now

Published Apr 6th, 2020 3:01PM EDT
coronavirus isolation
Image: NASA

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  • NASA’s Jessica Meir reveals what astronauts do to stay healthy and upbeat during long stints of isolation. 
  • The coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us to live a little bit more like astronauts, so taking Meir’s tips to heart might be a good way to go. 
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Cut off from family and friends, rationing supplies, and not living the confines of your home for weeks at a time. I’m talking about our new way of life in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but I could just as easily be describing life for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

The small team of scientists currently hurtling through space above our heads is composed of masters of self-isolation, and one of those scientists — NASA’s Jessica Meir — recently offered some of her own insights into how to stay safe (and sane) during these bizarre times.

Speaking from her home in space, Meir revealed just how strange it is to be living in a remote location, far away from any of the pandemic-related woes the planet is dealing with down below.

“It is something we’ve thought a lot about up here. It is very strange and a bit surreal for us to see it all unfold when we’ve been up here for the entire duration of what’s going on down on the ground and it seems that we will be completely going back to a different planet,” Meir said.

“But I think there are a lot of things that people can do to make things a little bit easier on them, and some of the things that we do up here is to try to stick to our routine, we make sure to stick to our exercise routine to stay fit and healthy,” she says. “Exercise, as we know, is important not only for our physical fitness but also for our mental wellbeing, and that is something that we emphasize a lot up here.”

Astronauts aboard the ISS have a whole array of fitness gear that they can use to break a sweat in space. Meir and her fellow scientists always set aside time to ensure that they stay in shape, which is particularly important due to the low-gravity environment. Without gravity constantly acting on the human body, muscles can degrade rapidly and it’s vital to the health of the crew that they do what they can to keep fit.

It’s not exactly the same as self-isolating at home to avoid spreading a virus during a pandemic, but a lot of the same rules still apply. Exercising at home is something we all can do, whether it’s bodyweight exercises like situps or pushups, or even something more relaxing but still engaging, like yoga.

There’s no shortage of studies that show exercise benefits mental health as well, so if you’re feeling a bit of cabin fever you might benefit from breaking a sweat in more ways than one. That’s not to say you can’t go outside, of course, and taking the dog for a spirited walk (while maintaining your distance from whoever you might have had the same idea) is generally a fine idea.

Watch the full video above to get the most out of Meir’s advice, and stay safe!

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