We have discovered individual sport in our homes. Let's not abandon it, but don't underestimate the risks it entails. And, when we practice outdoors, we understand how to protect ourselves and others from the Coronavirus

*Lorenzo Boldrini, Isokinetic Milano sports doctor

The way we keep fit has changed dramatically in recent months, starting with the lockdown. What now – albeit not like last March – you can still breathe in the air.

For a doctor who deals with orthopedic sports rehabilitation, like myself, it was an interesting period. What happened, in fact, was the discovery of activities other than what my patients were used to. Suddenly the jumps with the rope or the push-ups have become the fulcrum of the movement allowed to many within the four walls with the consequence that many have found themselves overloaded at the level of the tendons, of the muscles. Back and knee pain were commonplace, therefore, while fracture trauma, typical of contact sports, decreased. The real problem of individual sport is in fact the lack of a guide or correct instructions for the practice.

The other problem was that – opposite but equally pressing – of immobility. At home it is difficult to take more than 1500 steps in the whole day and we know that the target should be that of 10 thousand steps. There is a document of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation (read here), published in May, which gives recommendations for physical activity with respect to recovery after periods of sedentary lifestyle. The document recommends gradualness, physical conditioning that has an aerobic component (60/70% of maximum heart rate), even through a brisk walk, a bit of a bicycle or a run, if you are already used to it.

This type of activity, if not at high intensity, can be daily, reaching up to 300 minutes a week, also combining muscle toning exercises that must, instead, be done a couple of times a week.

And this basic activity is perfect if carried out with the tools we have equipped ourselves with at home in recent months or with many of the equipment we find in gardens and parks.

Thinking of a hypothetical new stop to activities – which, even if it will not be total as the previous one, could interest and already affects those who live in localized lockdown places  it is important to avoid sitting more than 6/8 hours a day and do at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity. But training at home also means choosing places and activities that are good for our body: the case of a patient of mine who ran on the balcony during the lockdown is exemplary. The constant changes of direction caused an overload in the feet creating problems with the metatarsals.

Let us also remember the safety in terms of the spread of the virus during sports practice. In fact, for outdoor activities, I still recommend practicing them alone, naturally with masks, or with adequate spacing.

A very recent study by the Universities of Eindhoven and Leuven has in fact analyzed the aerodynamics of the dispersion of droplets emitted with breathing, simulating different walking and running speeds.

For those who stand still, in an enclosed environment, the generally recommended distance is one and a half meters, and can be considered sufficient to avoid being reached by the cloud of droplets emitted by those in front of us. In movement, things change, because the low inertia of the droplets emitted with respiration determines a diffusion trail that can stretch for several meters.

It must be said that the masks have not had the evolution I thought. Surgical masks are used, sports masks are probably too expensive but certainly useful for those who practice periodic and intense sports activity. Numerous companies have in fact proposed devices with characteristics of wearability, breathability and suitability of the materials to reach a satisfactory compromise between the reduction of the diffusion of breathing particles, safety and comfort. On this issue I think it is useful to dispel a false myth: in Isokinetic Milano we have studied the behavior of people who train on exercise bikes, without and with the mask, and we have confirmed that the heart rate does not change, the mask does not therefore make the otherwise challenging exercise but certainly, for those who wear the devices, there is the perception of greater fatigue.

Opening photo from the shooting Sopra la panca by Simone Barberis from Interni 10/2019. Bench Atollo design Dondoli & Pocci, Calligaris. Stool MC20 Cugino design Konstantin Grcic, Mattiazzi. Velluto Piccadilly Biscuit by Kirkby Design by Romo Group.

In the text, images from the photoshoot: Libertà creativa (photo by Paolo Riolzi) on Interni 06/2020; Performance del design by Simone Barberis on Interni 05/2019 and In movimento by Paolo Riolzi on Interni 11/2019.

Text collected by Donatella Bollani


Text collected by Donatella Bollani.