Silver Fit


Sport is a major part of physical and mental health for most people and trying to return as soon and as safely as possible is a major concern for many of us. Understandably many people have questions about how to play and train safely. Here’s our advice based on the available evidence.
If you understand some basic principles you can almost certainly get back to your exercise and sport that you love, with some adjustments.

Almost all sports and exercise can be made very safe (but not 100% safe), with the following basic principles:

  • Being sensible goes a long way. Keeping the basic principles in mind and applying them beats trying to follow instructions meticulously.
  • Outdoors is best. Dispersion with good ventilation helps a lot, and UV light in sunshine is free and effective as a disinfectant. Indoors, especially in closed crowded spaces, is where most transmission happens.
  • Masks work.
  • Be in close proximity with someone (<1.5m) for as short a time as possible.
  • Don’t engage in sporting activity or visit a gym when you are sick.
  • Sick employees must isolate themselves.
  • Sensible disinfection and regular hand washing is a good and easy thing to do (see our advisory here).
  • Be extra careful if you or a close contact has risk factors – advanced age, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, HIV, TB or any other serious illness. If you contract the virus, you may pass it on to someone who can get very ill or die, even if you have no symptoms.

Droplets, aerosol spread and MASKS.

Breathing heavily, talking and shouting, often key parts of many sports, increases the risk of spreading the virus; masks can mitigate this, but not completely so. This increased respiratory effort while doing sports and/or exercise increases risk significantly.

Masks work! They may not be the most comfortable when you are sweating and panting, but they are essential indoors, and probably a good idea even for routine outdoor use.

There are already innovative designs emerging, that are more comfortable, accommodate sweating, are a better fit and minimise the annoying misting-up that people who wear glasses experience when breathing hard.

Anecdotally, people who wear masks for long periods of time during the day seem to have less discomfort wearing it during exercise. As the virus is here for the long haul, it may be worth sucking it up and learning to live with using them pretty much everywhere outside the home. For people who find the masks unbearable and are exercising for long periods of time: take a mask break. Go to an isolated area, take off your mask and breathe in fresh air for about 10-15 mins.

Considerable concern has been expressed by some people about “rebreathing’’ and that carbon dioxide build up will occur and have health consequences. However, there is no evidence there is any danger in wearing a mask during heavy exercise nor that there is a decreased amount of oxygen breathed in while wearing one. The discomfort athletes feel is almost always related to the heat of the breath building up on their face and feeling of claustrophobia associated with this, rather than a build-up of carbon dioxide (which, like oxygen, is a gas which easily diffuses through fabric).

Look for a mask that is comfortable. A stitched cotton mask or surgical mask is preferable over T-shirt or elastic masks. In the unlikely event that you breathed enough carbon dioxide to make a difference (a very tight mask with very heavy breathing), you would have to stop until your levels returned to near-normal (you will feel less out of breath), with no long-term harm.

For the full article or to read the previous advisories written by this panel click here: