NASA requires its astronauts to exercise on space flights to fight off the debilitating effects of zero-gravity on the body’s bone and muscle. But Sunita Williams, U.S. commander of the Expedition 33 crew at the International Space Station, took things to another level when she completed the first ever triathlon in space — running, biking, and even swimming to compete with Earth-based athletes 240 miles below in Southern California.
Since quarters are a bit cramped at the I.S.S., Williams used special exercise equipment to keep up with triathletes competing in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Southern California. For the half-mile “swimming” portion, Williams strapped into something called the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), which uses weights to imitate water resistance while swimming through anti-gravity. For the 18-mile biking portion she used a stationary bike, and for the four-mile run she used a specially outfitted treadmill that strapped her in to keep her from floating off.