New Treadmill Information for Fitness Module

The DIY Podcast topic module about fitness explains that space station crew members use treadmill exercises to maintain bone mass, cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance. The device that’s mentioned and demonstrated is the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System, or TVIS. Now, a new treadmill to go along with TVIS has been added to the station, and you may want to include it in your classroom’s podcast about fitness.

COLBERT, the world’s most famous treadmill, was transferred to the station in September during the STS-128 shuttle mission. The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT, is named after Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report.” NASA chose the acronym COLBERT after the television comedian received the most votes in an online NASA poll to name a space station node. NASA opted to name the node Tranquility, but named the treadmill after Colbert.

COLBERT (the treadmill, not the comedian) has a maximum speed of 12.4 mph, which is faster than the Olympic 100 meter race record. Crew members usually run about 4 to 8 mph. The COLBERT design allows ground experts tracking crew health in orbit to create individual exercise prescriptions and uplink them to the crew as a profile.

The following links to images, video and background information will be helpful if your students want to include COLBERT in their fitness production.


COLBERT decal on the treadmill

Stephen Colbert’s inspirational message video

Do Tread on Me 
COLBERT Ready for Serious Exercise 

Announcement on “Colbert Report,” Treadmill Named COLBERT

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NASA TV Programs About Fitness

If you’re looking for more NASA-related information to help students create podcasts using the NASA Education DIY Podcast Fitness module, check out NASA TV for educational programming. During the month of June 2009, NASA TV will show programming related to bone and muscle loss in microgravity and the importance of fitness on Earth, as well as in space. Note that programming may be pre-empted by other events.

NASA CONNECT™: Better Health From Space to Earth will be shown on June 12 and 18 at 8 a.m. EDT and between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. and 8 and 10 p.m. EDT. In this episode, students will learn about the importance of good nutrition and exercise. They will investigate what we can learn in space about our bodies here on Earth. Students will see how researchers and scientists apply the mathematics concepts of measurement and estimation to study the loss of calcium in bones and the loss of muscle mass while astronauts are living and working in space.

Another NASA CONNECT™ episode, Good Stress: Building Better Muscles and Bones, runs June 17 between 4 and 6 p.m. and 8 and 10 p.m. EDT. It’s also scheduled on June 24 at 8 a.m. EDT and between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. and 8 and 10 p.m. EDT. Students will learn about the importance of building and maintaining better muscles and bones. They will learn that all stress in life is not bad. In fact, the body needs good stress, such as exercise, to be healthy. Students will see how scientists and researchers collect and analyze physiological data to understand how muscle and bones are constantly changing, especially in a microgravity environment.

Visit the NASA TV Education File Schedule for information about NASA educational programming and how to find NASA TV in your area. NASA TV is also available online at

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NASA Resources for Fitness

For some of the same reasons that it’s important to exercise on Earth, it’s even more important to exercise in a microgravity environment. As students build their own podcasts about fitness, they can compare the purposes and benefits of exercising in both environments.

The NASA SCI Files™ The Case of the Physical Fitness Challenge educator guide includes lesson plans and activities that support national education standards to help students understand that a healthy lifestyle includes proper nutrition and daily physical activity.
The Case of the Physical Fitness Challenge 

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute, or NSBRI, works to prevent or solve health problems related to long-duration space travel and prolonged exposure to microgravity. The institute, established through NASA, has materials to supplement science, health and fitness education.
NSBRI Educational Materials

Learn what NASA has done and is doing to keep astronauts healthy and strong.

Fit for Space Fact Sheets

Glenn’s Human Research Program Ensures Astronaut Health and Safety

Exercise Countermeasures Project

NASA has more resources that explain the importance of exercise and fitness.

Why do Workouts Work?

How Long Does It Take to Rebuild Bone Lost During Space Flight?

Space Bones

Space Biology FAQ

To Keep Fit in Space, Train Like an Athlete 

The Body’s Muscles and Bones Video

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Fitness Topic Module Offers Opportunity for Integrated Curricula

Science + technology + physical education + health = well-rounded students.

How often do science, health, physical education and technology teachers have a genuine opportunity to integrate their curricula? The DIY Podcast Fitness module offers that opportunity. Students’ podcasts could include a discussion of the effects of microgravity on the human body from a scientific point of view. For health class, students could discuss the importance of physical exercise on Earth. A physical education teacher could assist students with proper form as they demonstrate basic physical exercises. And a technology teacher could give instruction on audio and video production techniques for the final product.

The concepts students learn while researching, writing and producing a fitness podcast are reinforced in four subject areas. This reinforcement promotes greater understanding of the concepts. Producing a fitness podcast could help students make connections that otherwise might not have clicked for them.

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New DIY Podcast Topic Module: Fitness

Astronaut Sunita Williams actually ran the Boston Marathon in space. And in our latest DIY Podcast topic module, she and astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria demonstrate and explain how astronauts exercise in space and why it’s so important. We posted the new Fitness module this week to give you easy access to downloadable NASA audio, video and images that students can use to build their own podcasts about fitness and exercise. The Fitness module includes 13 video clips and 12 audio clips that students can mix with original content as they examine fitness in space and on Earth. You’ll find helpful information about fitness along with links to additional resources for students who want to research the topic before writing their script.

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