Being a good sport
With swimming pools, yoga and pilates studios, and indoor sports facilities now open, paying attention to these basic guidelines can help you minimise risk
Unlock 6.0 has made available yoga and pilates studios, indoor sports facilities such as badminton halls and tennis courts, and swimming pools after a break of more than six months. But even as fitness enthusiasts brush off their racquets and pull on their yoga pants, experts point out the importance of being mindful about how you re-enter these spaces and the pace at which you restart your workouts.
Dr Harish Chafle
Most studios are using online or app-based scheduling services to prevent over-crowding, says Swapnil Naik, partner at Juhu's Activ8 Pilates Studio. "At our studio, class size has been reduced from 10 to five participants. We have also closed the lounge area to prevent unnecessary loitering. We ask all our members to arrive and leave at the scheduled time, since the studio and equipment are thoroughly disinfected between sessions. Members must also carry their own water bottles and towels," he explains.
Dr Harish Chafle, an intensivist and chest physician at Global Hospital, adds that if you do happen to reach the studio early, you must wait outside or sit in your car to minimise exposure. "Carry your own yoga mat. Try to wear gloves while using the equipment. If you are unable to do so, carry and use your own sanitiser after using the equipment. Ensure you take a shower immediately after working out." He also adds that since wearing a mask while exercising can increase your heart rate quickly and lead to breathing difficulties, it is advisable you speak to your doctor before undertaking strenuous activities to understand how best you can follow the COVID-19 protocol.
Wear gloves while using gym equipment and carry your own bottle and sanitiser, apart from mask
Dr Salaah Qureshi, MD of Internal Medicine at Axis Hospital, recommends checking if the studio or indoor facility is located near a containment zone. "Contact the establishment to ascertain that they are following the COVID-19 guidelines and that there are regular temperature checks and disinfection of the exercise floor and equipment. Avoid sharing equipment [like squash, tennis or badminton racquets] with other members," he says.
Don't ignore warm-up exercises
Pranit Gondhali, assistant manager at Ramsheth Thakur International Sports Complex, says that due to social distancing guidelines, only two players are being permitted per court for online sports such as badminton, squash and table tennis. Avoid arriving in large groups and make sure to call ahead so that you can book your slot. With swimming pools now being available for competitive swimming training for state, national, and international-level sporting events, Munazza Habibulla, CEO of Swimming Matters, advises that swimmers maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet at all times from other swimmers and coaches. "Wear masks except while you are in the pool. Once inside the pool, make sure that there are no more than two swimmers per lane. Preferably, wear your swimwear before heading to the pool so that you can minimise the use of changing rooms. Avoid using the toilets. Do not spit and do not share swim aids," she suggests.
Opt for the open
Be careful when practising deep breathing in public places or a crowded studio — these are best done in open spaces with clean air or in private or smaller groups with social distancing rules in place. Keep these pointers in mind when you resume yoga routines, says Namita Piparaiya, founder, Yoganama:
1 For the first seven to 10 days, begin your yoga practice with joint rotations. Then, gradually add six to 12 rounds of sun salutations and joint activation exercises, or sukshma vyayama, to increase circulation to the joints and to prepare yourself for yoga postures.
2 Further, as you pick up the reins, repeat postures often rather than holding them only once. When working on improving your flexibility, hold poses for up to 30 seconds, and repeat them two to three times.
3 If yoga is your only form of physical activity or exercise, don't focus only on your flexibility — doing this can imbalance your body. Also, include strengthening and balancing postures such as the single leg bridge pose, bird dog, or locust pose.
4 Finally, to enjoy the full benefit of yoga, regularly include pranayama in your practice. These breathing exercises help calm the mind and minimise the negative impact of stress on the body.
The restart checklist
. Do not neglect your warm-up, stretching, and cool-down exercises.
. Expect some niggles and muscle twinges after your post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. Respect these and slow down both the intensity and duration of your exercise.
. Nagging pains when you resume your exercise programme could indicate an underlying injury, wear and tear of tissues, or even multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Consult a doctor.
. Straining injured joints can lead to irreversible wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions these joints and increase your predis-position to arthritis. Avoid self-medication by taking over-the-counter drugs. Seek the help of a specialist.
- Dr Mudit Khanna, joint replacement surgeon and orthopaedic at Wockhardt Hospital
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