“During the confinement the pseudo-gurus of sport have grown up”

An expert in physical activity and sport from the European Union explains what we must take into account if we want to train at home, along with the pros and cons of this type of practice.

Given the forced restriction of physical activity during the state of alarm, many people modified their way of doing sports with training online from home. Will these new formats take hold or when the fear of contagion everything happens will be face-to-face again?

Helios Couple, professor and researcher at the Faculty of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences of the European University, has analyzed the health risks associated with a drastic reduction in exercise due to the lockdown and how doing it can help in difficult times.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a true home sport boom?

Taking into account that the alternatives to exercising at home are to do it outdoors –where now high temperatures are incompatible with a large number of sports in a wide range of hours– or in the gym –with its current reduced capacity and the possible fear of infection of many users–, this modality may be with us for at least a few more months.

Can the same objectives be achieved in this type of modality?

Exercising can be done for different purposes. In addition to being aesthetic or healthy, it is a powerful socializer and cathartic. We can adapt most training protocols that aim to lose weight, tone or increase muscle mass to continue doing them at home with hardly any technical or functional limitations.

However, social and psychological goals can be more difficult to adapt. A separate case is training for sporting or performance purposes, since it requires infrastructure and spaces that make it very difficult to adapt it to the usual home environment.

What are the benefits and harms of sports at home?

Typically gym and club coaches runners They are qualified professionals (graduates in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences), so we can train effectively and safely. A major problem when exercising at home is choosing a reliable source or guide of information that, in addition to motivating, has enough knowledge to make training effective and safe for your health.

During the confinement, the pseudo-gurus of training have grown, without specialization and hardly any knowledge, which have managed to reach a significant bulk of the population thanks to their careful aesthetics, charisma and gratuity. Just as we assume and demand an accredited doctor when we go to the hospital, we should do the same when we seek to improve our health or aesthetics through accredited sports physical trainers or educators.

The closure also encouraged some people to start with the sport. How could physical activity help in such difficult situations?

One of the most common reasons for not exercising is lack of time. During the confinement, many people found an extra period that they decided to use in this task. Physical exercise has multiple biological benefits that improve the psychological state of the person who practices it by following certain guidelines of intensity, volume and type of exercise.

The muscle, when subjected to repeated contractions, is capable of stimulating certain substances that are released into the blood through which they travel to organs such as the brain, where they modulate numerous neurotrophic actions. In fact, the practice of exercise has been related to the prevention of different psychological and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and mood disorders.

Is adherence higher or lower at home than with classes or face-to-face training?

Presence has always been associated with greater adherence, while self-management of a time that we mistakenly consider leisure tends to lead to a higher dropout rate. Being aware that practicing physical exercise is not (only) leisure, but a health practice, will help to maintain the connection during the return to normality in which the whirlwind of tasks will lead us again to underestimate its importance or need.

In the 90s people bought exercise videos to do at home. How have the formats changed since then? Are we now more likely to use screens for everything?

Currently we have a wide variety of platforms and supports from which we can watch videos of coaches (qualified or not) and follow them from anywhere. Access to these videos has been democratized for users, but also for coaches, with the consequent publication of little (or no) filtered content that can lead us to follow instructions that put our health at risk.

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