The overall hypothesis of this experiment is that structured exercise training performed during an ICC space flight analog will ameliorate stress-induced changes in behavioral health, cognitive, sensorimotor and immune system function. It is further posited that guided imagery will augment exercise on behavioral health, fatigue, cognitive and immune system function will be moderated by/correlated with reductions in biomarkers of stress and improvements/maintenance of central nervous system functioning.
APPROACH:Specific Aim 1:
Data will be collected across three HERA campaigns which consist of four missions and four participants per campaign (total n=48). HERA missions will be randomized to SPRINT exercise training or control at a 2:1 ratio. The SPRINT group will follow a detailed exercise prescription regimen while the control group will be given exercise training guideline (no structured regimen) and access to exercise equipment. Baseline and endpoint measures will be collected. Measures include neurobehavioral checklist (NBCL), Neurocognitive Testing Battery, Perception-Action Coupling Task (PACT), the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), the Visuomotor Test Battery (VTB), and NK-cell cytotoxic activity (NKCA) against tumor target cells in vitro.
Specific Aim 2:
The SPRINT experimental group will also receive audio guided imagery (GI) sessions to augment the exercise training component. A GI coach will work with each participant in the GI condition to create nine scripts, one for each aerobic exercise and one for each resistance exercise. Aerobic scripts are approximately 30 minutes long and resistance scripts will correspond to the duration of the activity for each participant. The scripts will be digitally recorded, and participants will be instructed to listen to the recording while completing their exercise routine.
Specific Aim 3:
Daily saliva samples will be collected immediately after waking from all HERA participants early (day 5 to 10), mid (day 20-25), and late (day 40-45) mission. All participants will undergo a sleep deprived night at mission day 40.
It is anticipated that lower scores of positive adaptations as determined by NBCL, impaired performance on the PVT, lower mood states, and reduced sensorimotor accuracy of judgement as determined by PACT and VTB, particularly toward the latter stages of the mission will be observed. Additionally, NK-cell function is expected to decrease. It is also anticipated that GI will increase affective response during exercise. Thus, GI would be an effective countermeasure to augment exercise motivation, adherence and positive affect during prolonged periods of isolation and confinement. Overall, it is expected that participants assigned to SPRINT will illustrate smaller increases in stress biomarkers.