Indian-American astronaut Sunita 'Suni' Williams is participating in an experimental fitness programme designed to reduce the loss of bone and muscle mass in space travellers.
Sunita, 41, considered a veteran athlete and marathon runner, has spent the past weeks getting used to living in space and understanding how everything works there.
Sunita wrote to her sixth grade teacher Angela DiNapoli, who has been communicating with the astronaut through e-mail and cell- phone, "I finally feel settled. Amazing how all the muscles can adapt! “So, I am ready to start working out seriously. In fact, it is really necessary to make sure that we are in top shape for our spacewalks coming up in February! That will be the true test of how well we have been doing up here."
She will lift weights, run and cycle for at least two hours a day, and will go shoeless for most of her stay on the orbiting laboratory.
She will use her feet to grasp objects so that the muscles don't atrophy while she is floating for the next six months, according to Angela DiNapoli. "Lots of folks ask about the treadmill because it is hard to imagine how one can run in space without gravity," Sunita wrote in an e-mail to friends. "We are strapped down to the treadmill using a harness and bungees."