The pandemic induced social isolation and stay at home rules made sports & physical exercise inaccessible all over the country as gymnasiums, stadiums, pools, dance and fitness studios, physiotherapy centres, parks and playgrounds remained closed. In the last few months most of the physical activities has resumed in a phased manner but due to COVID-19, they are not seeing much traction.
With almost no or very less physical activity, longer screen time, irregular sleep patterns and unhealthy diet, people of all age are experiencing not just weight gain but overall deterioration of health as well. Lack of physical activity coupled with stress or anxiety can give rise to mental health issues also.
It is a known fact that participating in physical and sports activities helps with building immunity, developing physical fitness and maintaining mental wellness. In fact, a gradual and phased resumption of such activities is much needed to get back to normalcy as well as for our fitness. within our society.
In a report presented to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, CII and SPORTSCOM Industry Confederation have shared suggested practices for engaging in these activities. The report includes:
- Basic guiding principles – To start with, all guidance, rules and regulations regarding the return of sports must be followed as set forth by the national, state, or local governments and health departments.
- Risk assessment and general safety precautions – A list of do’s and don’ts have to be followed diligently. Clean and wipe down all equipment with disinfectant, before and after practice; there should be no sharing of water bottles, towels, etc are some of the guidelines that should be adhered to strictly.
- Four phase plan for resuming sports & physical activity – Precautions should be followed at each level. For example, during the first phase, training can resume with sub-groups of not more than 8-10 athletes; In phase two, full team trainings could resume; In the third stage, full team competitions can be held. Phase four will come into activation only when there is no restriction from the government and the virus does not pose any health threat anymore.
- Precautions and safety measures for sports – Specific measures should be put in place for the various categories: non-contact sports; minimal/medium contact sports; full contact sports and water sports. For example, in minimum contact sports, training may resume with sub-groups of 8-10 athletes; In full contact sports, athletes should use dummies, punching/kicking bags etc in place of sparring partners.
- Safety measures for public parks – One way to ensure safety is by putting up signage outside all parks to educate the public on the precautions to be taken while using parks.
- Safety measures for facilities (academies/sports complexes/gyms) – The recommendations list steps to be taken by commercial establishments. For example, athletes, coaches, staff, and officials should undergo screening using symptom checklists and temperature checks before each practice or competition.
- Recommendations for phased return to physical activity and sports in schools – A four level safety guideline should be practiced during the phased resumption of activities in schools. All the activities that are organised in classrooms, over digital platforms or in outdoor facilities, should always be supervised by a designated trainer or parent.
- Recommendations for parents – Children need structure and parents should make sure that there’s a schedule for the day that includes playtime as well as a time to help with the daily chores.
The uncertainty arising due to COVID-19 has instilled the fear of the unknown in one and all. Although a certain level of anxiety over the coronavirus is completely normal, high levels of anxiety or stress can have a devastating effect on daily life and can cause negative impacts on our mental and emotional wellbeing. It is important to be aware of the impact this can have on our health so self-care and maintaining physical fitness is very important at this time.