What sports, fitness activities can be done in the time of COVID-19?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2020 12:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has released its recommendations on reintroducing sports and fitness activities to the general populace in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The framework, put together by the Philippine Sports Institute Medical, Scientific, and Athletic Services of the PSC, takes into account the different limitations of each quarantine scenario, and is based on information provided by the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force.

"The priority at all times must be to preserve public health, without straining our health care system unnecessarily from sports-related medical consults, and at the same time, minimize the risk of community transmission of COVID-19," the PSC said.

The PSC stressed that while the resumption of sports and recreational activities can contribute many "health, economic, social and cultural benefits," it should not compromise the health and safety of the individuals and the community.

It is crucial that the resumption of community sports and recreational activities must take place in "staged fashion," the PSC said. This means individual workouts and activities first, before moving on to small group activities with less than 10 persons involved. Large group activities, and eventually, full contact sports, can push through only if the situation allows.

The PSC put together a framework recommending activities that can be done depending on the quarantine classification of each area. High risk areas are those under enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine; moderate risk areas are those under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine; and low risk areas are those under the state of "new normal."

Their recommendations are as follows:

* For areas under ECQ, activities must be done within the confines of the house, "wherein occupants have been together, symptom-free, for 14 days or more." Solo or family exercise sessions, and video tele-exercise sessions are recommended. Improvised weights and resistance devices may be used.

* For areas under MECQ, activities must be done at the perimeter of one's residence or fronting the residence. Masks are required and social distancing protocols have to be observed while doing fitness activities such as solo runs, kata events, or yoga. 

* For areas under GCQ, a person can use his own equipment in a public indoor location once it is allowed to operate, but person-to-person interaction is still not allowed. Masks are required and social distancing protocols must be observed as well. Barangay zumba sessions may be done, and persons may use park-based recreational facilities. Swimming is also allowed, as long as there is no interaction at the showers or change areas.

* For areas under MGCQ, a person can now use public equipment at public indoor locations such as gyms or fitness centers. Person-to-person interactions may be allowed, but masks are still required and social distancing protocols must be observed. Persons can do individual gym workouts and practice at public gyms. As for team sports, non-contact scrimmages are allowed, such as batting and fielding practice in baseball. In contact sports, use of the heavy bag, speed bag and mitts are allowed, but person-to-person sparring is still barred.

* For areas under the "new normal," multiple person-to-person interaction is allowed, but masks still need to be worn and social distancing is still required. Full games and team activities can resume, as well as formal competitions. 

However, the PSC warned that sports activities under the new normal "may not be possible in a COVID-19 scenario with no available treatment, vaccine, WHO/CDC recognized immunity passport."

View the PSC's full document here.

Ultimately, the PSC stressed that resuming sports activities "may not be linear," given the situation in the country.

"Sporting stakeholders may need to be flexible to accommodate and respond to changes in community transmission rates, and the associated changes in advice from our government experts," they said. "The pandemic doesn't have a precise playbook."

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).