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Fancy walking on the moon in Huddersfield? New machine mirrors sensation of lunar stroll

It is the running machine that defies gravity - Chloe Glover tried out the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill, which has been pushing the limits of sportsmen and women as well as those with injuries

If you want to experience the feeling of being on the moon, you could do a lot worse than ten minutes on the anti gravity treadmill.

Originally created by NASA to help astronauts feel gravity in space, the function of the machine, has been reversed to give a feeling of weightlessness.

The aim is to try to improve performance and act as a new style of physiotherapy by blowing in so much air into a wearable bag that it reduces pressure on joints.

A pair of special comedy oversized shorts was essential wear when having a go on the machine.

They zipped onto a circular hole in the middle of a plastic bag attached around the machine.

At first, walking on it seemed akin to being on any other treadmill.

But then an unwelcome cold blast of air began to inflate the bag.

As more air was pumped in, the harder it was to keep my feet on the ground.

Soon taking each step left me suspended for seconds as the air counteracted the pull of gravity on my feet.

The cushioning effect meant that I was racking up a distance at good speed without my legs even noticing.

“You’re basically a cork floating in a glass of water,” said Trevor McDonald, who is travelling with his machines to show hospitals and physiotherapists all around the country and stopped off in Elland.

“There’s been a lot of research on how it helps muscles in the body without altering them.

“It has the same affect as hydrotherapy but it can be used by more people who have just undergone surgery who can’t get wet.”

Examiner reporter Chloe Glover tries out AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

Runners Mo Farrah and Paula Radcliffe are two of the big names who have been using the device, which can be adjusted to give users differing levels of weightlessness.

While they may only choose to have air help them feel 80 per cent of their body weight, those with injuries or chronic conditions can feel as little as 20 per cent.

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I myself have seen a normally wheelchair-bound boy with a degenerative muscular condition beaming while walking on one.

“It’s also used by people up to 28 stones wanting to lose weight so they can see what it will feel like when they’ve lost one third of their bodyweight,” added Trevor.

Yet not everyone will be able to afford the benefits of the machine, which is sold for £35,000.

Examiner reporter Chloe Glover putting on the NASA designed shorts before she tries out the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

An average half hour stint on one at a private clinic, we used the Spire in Elland, costs around £25.

However, Trevor said that he is now approaching NHS hospitals with the device.

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“There are a couple in hospitals already such as at the Northern General in Sheffield but they’re not available to people off the street, just patients.

“It is great when you see kids who have difficulties walking come on leaps and bounds in it.”



Doug Thomson
Huddersfield Town correspondent
Chris Roberts
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Louise Cooper
Crime correspondent
Nick Lavigueur
Health Correspondent
Joanne Douglas
Local Government Correspondent
Linda Whitwam
Education Correspondent
Henryk Zientek
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Martin Shaw
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