Today we began the exercise study which is intended to determine a potential coping method for the
stress involved in living in the isolated and confined environment of space for extended periods of
time. According to reports from previous spaceflight missions, it is apparent that stress can result
in significant mood disturbances, which can affect both their mission as well as their interactions
with the rest of the crew members. With this in mind, it is important to determine activities that
can serve as potential coping methods for dealing with this psychological strain involved in
spaceflight and improve the mood of those living in these isolated and confined environments.
Previous research in other domains has shown exercise to be a good coping method for stress and it
seems to have nothing but good to offer in that it not only can improve physical fitness, but also
the psychological health of those completing it. Therefore, it is logical to hypothesize that
exercise could also serve as an acceptable coping method for those living and working in isolated
and confined environments such as space. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to test this
hypothesis by conducting two types of workouts, low intensity and high intensity, on a crew living
in the Mars Desert Research Station for two weeks. The independent variables in this study,
intensity levels, are being manipulated to see how and if different exercise intensities affect the
dependent variable, mood disturbance.
Today marked the beginning of data collection for this study with the first high intensity workout
being conducted this morning. The workout included a total of 17 exercises incorporating all 5 major
muscle groups. The exercises chosen for this study were selected from the Army PRT FM 7-22 with
added resistance bands for selected exercises. Before and after the workouts the crew members were
asked to complete the Profile of Mood States Questionnaire, which measures the total mood
disturbance at the time that the questionnaire is administered.
The crew members had a challenging time this morning with the workout but enjoyed it overall. This
seems to provide early support for my hypothesis which is that, crew members will have greater mood
improvement after the high intensity workout rather than the low intensity workout. However, it is
too early to make any actual conclusions as today was the first day of data collection. If it is
found that this hypothesis is supported by this research, a possible explanation may be that when
people feel like they have challenged themselves they feel a greater since of accomplishment, which
may in turn lead to improvement in their overall mood.