The reclosure of fitness clubs, gyms and swimming pools can affect health, resilience, and wellbeing of the society. According to the MultiSport Index Pandemic study, during the spring lockdown 43% of Poles limited their physical activity, mainly due to the closure of sports facilities. Experts stress that this situation may repeat itself now.
– Poles' opposition to the reclosure of sports facilities and numerous statements equating physical activity with health indicate a huge increase in public awareness, which we have been striving for over the years together with experts, medical organisations and fitness industry players – says Tomasz Groń, Managing Director at Benefit Systems, Fitness Branch, responsible for Zdrofit, Fabryka Formy and My Fitness Place brands. – Fitness clubs are no longer places of recreation where we only care about our body shape. Today, these are well-prepared centres, operating in a high sanitary regime, in which Poles exercise for psychophysical health. And in the current situation, where health is a priority issue, the decision to close gyms and fitness clubs, which, according to studies, did not pose an additional epidemic risk, is incomprehensible. Not surprisingly, customers who had to limit their physical activity during the spring lockdown and were severely affected by this change, are very disappointed. Today's reclosure of sports facilities may once again contribute to decreasing physical activity in the society and a long-term deterioration of wellbeing – adds Groń.
Negative effects of decreased activity
According to the MuliSport Index Pandemic study conducted during the spring lockdown, most people who decreased their activity experienced a negative impact of changing sports habits, mainly on their wellbeing (74%) and health (65%). This was also confirmed by research conducted in the summer among MultiSport card holders after the reopening of sports facilities. As many as 92% of people who returned to physical activity after a period of social isolation experienced an improvement in their wellbeing, and 88% – an improvement in their health. Not without reason. After all the beneficial effect of exercise on the human body manifests itself in many ways, as confirmed by scientific research.
– Clinical and epidemiological studies clearly show that people who regularly practice sports are less likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections. There are also studies suggesting that regular physical activity is associated with a reduction in mortality and the incidence of flue and pneumonia. People who are vaccinated against flu and exercise regularly have longer protective levels of antibodies. Through immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, regular activity reduces the risk of overweight, obesity, and atherosclerosis. It also modulates several other disease processes – enumerates Łukasz Małek, M.D., PhD., sports cardiologist and “Pump up your immunity” campaign expert.
As experts emphasise, overweight and obesity are one of the factors that increase the risk of upper respiratory tract disease. According to the latest scientific meta-analysis published in the Obesity Research & Clinical Practice magazine, people with high BMI are also at higher risk of severe COVID-19, regardless of age, gender, race, and other health parameters.
–Obesity and overweight reduce the body's ability to produce antibodies that help fight viruses. People struggling with increased body weight also have lower cardiovascular and respiratory capacity, and this is of key importance in the case of infections such as those caused by SARS-CoV 2. This is another argument that should convince us to take up regular physical activity, also in the current situation – adds Dr Łukasz Małek. – Health promoting guidelines recommend at least 30 to 60 minutes of activity in the form of aerobic training most days of the week, which equates to about 2.5 to 5 hours of physical activity per week. Exercises should be evenly distributed throughout the week, and not cumulated, e.g. over the weekend. It should be emphasised that the effects add up over time, therefore regularity and continuity of training is important – recommends cardiologist.
Not everywhere and not all facilities have been closed
According to the latest regulation of the Council of Ministers, gyms, swimming pools and fitness clubs can be used by people preparing for the competition or participating in organised classes. The new guidelines for the yellow and red zones did not apply any additional restrictions to tennis and squash courts, climbing walls, dance and sports dance clubs, as well as yoga and martial arts schools. These facilities continue to operate with increased safety standards. – In the current situation, it is worth paying attention to the balance between benefits and risks. While hospitals are at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection, no one will shut them down because they have far more health benefits than potential losses. Their operations are modified to minimise the risk. Physical activity undertaken in sports facilities is similarly associated with health benefits, but I would like to point out that sports facilities had no outbreaks of coronavirus infections. Moreover, scientific research and analyses of fitness organisations indicate no increased epidemic risk in fitness clubs and gyms that apply sanitary recommendations.I lament that sports facilities are treated in the same way as weddings and nightclubs – says Ph.D., infectious disease and sports medicine specialist.
Back to home fitness classes?
– Even before the lockdown period, we launched the “Pump up your immunity” educational campaign, which encourages Poles to undertake regular physical activity for health both in fitness clubs as well as at home. We believe that the ability to choose a training location can support regular physical activity. In anticipation of the reopening of sports facilities, we invite our clients to train online on the Yes2Move.com platform and to participate in live workouts with our trainers. The platform is also available to MultiSport card holders. Research shows that about 30% of physically active Poles use training videos during the pandemic. I hope that until the sports facilities reopen, we will stay active for health and we will not abandon good habits – sums up Tomasz Groń.
Online workouts in selected sports facilities as part of the MultiSport campaign “Support fitness clubs” are still available. Active card holders can generate a special code at www.kartamultisport.pl and take part in online workouts organised directly by sports facilities from all over the country, which can obtain additional funds in this way.
Senior Communications Specialist at Benefit Systems