The advanced resistive exercise device (ARED), now at the prototype stage of development, is a versatile machine that can be used to perform different customized exercises for which, heretofore, it has been necessary to use different machines. Conceived as a means of helping astronauts and others to maintain muscle and bone strength and endurance in low-gravity environments, the ARED could also prove advantageous in terrestrial settings (e.g., health clubs and military training facilities) in which many users are exercising simultaneously and there is heavy demand for use of exercise machines.

The ARED is a fairly simple, robust machine. It is designed to enable the user to perform the three primary resistive exercises, for stimulating bone regeneration and exercising the major muscle groups. It also has the ability to perform 15 other exercises for secondary muscle groups. For the original low-gravity application, it is required to simulate the lifting of weights in normal Earth gravitation, and to have an operational life of 15 years. The major subsystems of the ARED are a pair of vacuum cylinders, a frame-and-platform assembly, an arm base assembly, a wishbone arm/lift bar, a cable-and-pulley mechanism, and a flywheel mechanism:

  • The frame-and-platform assembly serves as a backbone that supports all other subsystems and components.
  • The vacuum cylinders provide constant resistance for exercise. These are commercial off-the-shelf pneumatic cylinders of 8 in. (≈20 cm) inside diameter. If necessary, the cylinders can be recharged by use of a vacuum source. The vacuum cylinders are connected to the frame-and-platform assembly and the arm base assembly.
  • The arm base assembly serves as a loadadjustment mechanism and is a part of the overall load path.
  • The wishbone arm/lift bar serves as the bar exercise interface for the user, enabling the user to perform the squat, dead lift, heel raise, and many other exercises. The wishbone arm is also in the direct load path from the arm base assembly to the user.
  • The cable-and-pulley mechanism is connected to the arm base assembly. It is designed primarily to enable the user to perform long-stroke, low-load exercises. Examples of cable-and-pulley exercises are arm flies and hip abductions.
  • The flywheel mechanism provides the equivalent of the inertial component of free-weight exercise. This mechanism includes a gear rack that is attached to a piston shaft and meshes with a gear train connected to a flywheel. When this mechanism is in use, movement of the lift bar causes rotation of the flywheel.

This work was done by Jasen Raboin, Jason Niebuhr, Santana Cruz, and Chris Lamoreaux of Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the Johnson Innovative Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

This invention is owned by NASA, and a patent application has been filed. Inquiries concerning nonexclusive or exclusive license for its commercial development should be addressed to the Patent Counsel, Johnson Space Center, (281) 483-0837. Refer to MSC-23805.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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