NASA chooses Marquette University professor for gender-based space flight research

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by Katie Hustad

 MILWAUKEE --  According to research done by a team at NASA, female astronauts lose more strength and muscle mass, and also have a longer post-mission recovery period than male astronauts.

Dr. Sandra Hunter, associate professor of exercise science in the College of Heath Sciences at Marquette University is part of that team. The research is in conjunction with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, who examines the "Impact of Sex and Gender on Adaptations to Space."

Dr. Hunter is a leading expert in the area of gender-based neuromuscular research and NASA selected her to review her latest findings in the differences of gender during space flight.

“Our review found that space flight in general resulted in marked reductions in muscle strength and power, as much as 20 to 30 percent in two to three months,” Hunter says. “There’s evidence that women have even greater losses of muscle strength and mass than men when talking about the effects of space flight.”
 
The team also found that strength loss almost doubles the loss of muscle mass, and woman also may take longer to recover.
 
“Our findings indicate that much more research is required to fully understand sex differences in response to muscle loss,” Hunter says. “But it also shows that there are definite differences that will be apparent.”
 
The research teams will first present their findings at a NASA and NSBRI online workshop on Tuesday, June 25th.
 
NASA also recently announced eight new astronauts – its first group in four years – and four of the eight are women, the highest percentage ever chosen.

 

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