Sports facilities, including fitness clubs, are preparing to reopen under the sanitary regime after more than six months of lockdown. According to experts, the sports and recreation industry can play a special role in building public health both in the context of post-COVID rehabilitation and the prevention of disease of affluence, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and depression.
The MultiSport Index Pandemic survey shows that during the lockdown as many as 43% of physically active Poles limited the frequency of training mainly due to the closure of sports facilities. Among them, as many as 74% experienced a negative impact of limiting physical activity on their wellbeing, 65% on their health, and 61% on their body shape. How much did Poles gain during the pandemic? According to Ipsos, 42% of us gained an average weight of 5.7 kg. As experts point out, such lifestyle changes are a harbinger of more serious health problems.
– A sedentary lifestyle is one of the main factors increasing the risk of diseases of affluence. The WHO recognises insufficient levels of physical activity as the fourth cause of mortality in the world. We have also known for a long time that regular physical activity improves our resistance to infections and supports the efficiency of the respiratory as well as the circulatory system. These benefits were only given special attention during the pandemic – stresses Łukasz Małek, MD, Ph.D., sports cardiologist.
Activity for health
Two in five respondents in our country believe that a visit to a gym or a fitness club would improve their psychophysical health. One in three Poles believes that physical activity has the greatest impact on reducing the risk of a severe course of COVID-19. Regular physical activity is also gaining importance today in the context of post-COVID rehabilitation.
– When taking up physical activity, we force not only our muscles, which also includes the heart, but also all systems of our body to work more intensively. Regular exercise makes it better prepared to cope with various disorders, and thus, for example, builds its immunity. Physical activity also promotes recovery. During training, blood flow improves, and it is in the blood that essential nutrients, trace elements and vitamins are transported. All this helps the body regenerate not only in the case of COVID-19 but also after infections, inflammations or injuries. However, it should be remembered that both in such cases and after a long break from physical activity, return to training must be approached in a responsible and gradual manner – explains the cardiologist.
Gyms are preparing to open
From May 28 onwards a special sanitary regime will apply in sports facilities: limiting the number of exercisers (15m² per person), 1.5 m social distance, disinfection and the need to wear masks when we are not physically active.
– These are the rules that customers of sports facilities know from the past holiday period. Last year, we implemented many solutions that not only increase the safety of exercisers but also provide them with maximum comfort, e.g. by providing a fitness club search engine, which indicated the current volume of traffic in the facilities. It is worth noting that the sanitary guidelines, as shown by research and our experience, have brought the expected results. Based on the research, scientists from the University of Oslo concluded that gyms and fitness clubs are not a place of increased epidemic risk. Sports facilities were also not pockets of infection - says Tomasz Groń, Managing Director at Benefit Systems Fitness Unit, responsible for Zdrofit, Fabryka Formy, Fitness Academy and S4 fitness clubs.
According to the MultiSport Index Pandemic survey, as many as 94% of Poles who visited such facilities during the past holidays felt safe in them.
– In addition to ensuring sanitary safety during the pandemic, we also focus on supporting our clients in safe return to training. In all our clubs, a special, generally available programme has been launched under which club members can take advantage of adaptive training and training that responds to specific health needs, such as alleviating back pain, improving circulation and general mobility. Today, sports facilities are becoming health centres and a very important element in returning to good psychophysical condition of the society – he adds.
The estimates of the Institute for Structural Research show that if one in two inactive Poles began to exercise, the annual number of heart attacks would drop by nearly 11,000. The number of overweight people would decrease by 190,000 and with obesity – by 64,000. The number of hospitalisations due to cardiovascular diseases would also decrease by 14%. The costs of the health care system would be lower by PLN 440 million.
 The result of the survey conducted for Benefit Systems on the Ariadna panel in April 2021.
 Ipsos COVID 365+
Senior PR Specialist Benefit Systems