Special Issue "Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Sport and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 June 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Federica Valeriani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Movement, Human, and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, 00135 Rome, Italy
Interests: health promotion; sport hygiene; epidemiology; surveillance; public health; biotechnology; adapted physical activity; health policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sports and physical activity are major engines in an individual’s well-being, health promotion and social development, and their role is well recognized by governments and international health authorities. The COVID-19 pandemic imposed social and physical distancing, and lockdown measures caused restrictions in businesses and educational and social activities, also impacting on sport and physical activities. This pandemic has affected the world of sport from different points of view, including public health issues. The global outbreak of COVID-19 and the following lockdowns closed gyms, stadiums, pools, dance and fitness studios, physiotherapy centers, parks and playgrounds. Therefore, people from different countries were unable to actively participate in their sport activities, unless for limited training inside of their homes or surroundings. Under such conditions, many people tend to be less physically active, have irregular sleep patterns and follow unbalanced diets, which result in weight gain and loss of physical fitness, as shown by different studies. Some population groups such as low-income groups are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of the pandemic. Moreover, scientific evidence underlines that the COVID-19 restrictions exacerbated both the environmental and personal barriers experienced by people with a disability, preventing them from taking part in physical activity. The global community has adapted rapidly by creating online content tailored to different people. These contents vary from free tutorials on social media to stretching, meditation and dance classes in which the whole family can participate.

This Special Issue highlights the challenges COVID-19 has posed to both the world of sport and physical activity and well-being, especially in the marginalized or vulnerable groups. This Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) focuses on the impact of the pandemic in the world of sport from the public health point of view, also considering specific medical issues related to prevention and epidemiological studies related to SARS-CoV-2 risks in specific environments (e.g., swimming pools, sport facilities). The main topic is the impact of lockdown/restrictions on population health, considering the prolonged reduction in physical activity and the following possibility of an increased risk and burden of non-communicable diseases. New research papers, reviews, case reports and conference papers are welcome to this Issue. Papers dealing with new approaches to health promotion or innovative strategies for safety plans in sport facilities are also welcome. Other manuscript types accepted include methodological papers, position papers, brief reports and commentaries.

Dr. Federica Valeriani
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • physical activity
  • sport
  • COVID-19
  • lockdown
  • sedentary behaviors
  • health promotion
  • safety plan
  • sport facilities

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
Acceptance of Digital Sports: A Study Showing the Rising Acceptance of Digital Health Activities Due to the SARS-CoV-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 596; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph19010596 - 05 Jan 2022
Viewed by 292
Abstract
In pandemic times, the possibilities for conventional sports activities are severely limited; many sports facilities are closed or can only be used with restrictions. To counteract this lack of health activities and social exchange, people are increasingly adopting new digital sports solutions—a behavior [...] Read more.
In pandemic times, the possibilities for conventional sports activities are severely limited; many sports facilities are closed or can only be used with restrictions. To counteract this lack of health activities and social exchange, people are increasingly adopting new digital sports solutions—a behavior change that had already started with the trend towards fitness apps and activity trackers. Existing research suggests that digital solutions increase the motivation to move and stay active. This work further investigates the potentials of digital sports incorporating the dimensions gender and preference for team sports versus individual sports. The study focuses on potential users, who were mostly younger professionals and academics. The results show that the SARS-CoV-19 pandemic had a significant negative impact on sports activity, particularly on persons preferring team sports. To compensate, most participants use more digital sports than before, and there is a positive correlation between the time spent physically active during the pandemic and the increase in motivation through digital sports. Nevertheless, there is still considerable skepticism regarding the potential of digital sports solutions to increase the motivation to do sports, increase performance, or raise a sense of team spirit when done in groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19)
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Article
The Behaviour of Home Advantage during the COVID-19 Pandemic in European Rink Hockey Leagues
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 228; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph19010228 - 26 Dec 2021
Viewed by 517
Abstract
The primary purpose of the present study was to compare the home advantage (HA) and the home team performance in the most relevant European rink hockey leagues (Spanish, Portuguese and Italian), considering the presence or absence of spectators in the competition venues due [...] Read more.
The primary purpose of the present study was to compare the home advantage (HA) and the home team performance in the most relevant European rink hockey leagues (Spanish, Portuguese and Italian), considering the presence or absence of spectators in the competition venues due to the effect of COVID-19 restrictions. The sample was composed of 1665 rink hockey matches (654 from the Spanish league, 497 from the Portuguese league, and 514 from the Italian league) played between the 2018–2019 and 2020–2021 seasons. The HA and match variables comparisons were established using several negative binomial regression models. Results showed that the effect of HA did not disappear despite playing without spectators but decreased from 63.99% to 57.41% (p = 0.002). Moreover, the comparison of the match variables showed that playing with spectators benefited local teams’ performance, especially in the Portuguese and Italian leagues. Playing with spectators favoured local team performance in rink hockey matches, which is more evident in some analysed leagues. However, as HA does not disappear entirely without spectators, it is necessary to study other relevant performance factors that are not directly or indirectly attributable to crowd behaviour in rink hockey performance analyses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19)
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Article
Effects of COVID-19 Home Confinement on Behavior, Perception of Threat, Stress and Training Patterns of Olympic and Paralympic Athletes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12780; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182312780 - 03 Dec 2021
Viewed by 590
Abstract
Background: The aims of this study were to analyze the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent confinement on behaviors, perception of threat, stress, state of mind and training patterns among Olympic and Paralympic level athletes. Methods: Data gathering was performed utilizing [...] Read more.
Background: The aims of this study were to analyze the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent confinement on behaviors, perception of threat, stress, state of mind and training patterns among Olympic and Paralympic level athletes. Methods: Data gathering was performed utilizing an online questionnaire during imposed confinement. A correlational design with incidental sampling for convenience was used. All the variables were analyzed by age, gender, academic training, type of participation and sport specialty on a population composed of 447 Olympic (age: 26.0 ± 7.5 years) and 64 Paralympic (age: 28.4 ± 10.5 years) athletes. Results: The athletes trained more than twice as many hours before than during confinement. Most of the athletes recognized that their best athletic performance diminished due to the COVID-19 confinement but that will recover after the pandemic and its confinements. Almost half of the athletes declared they were more tired than normal and had difficulty sleeping, while more than half ate more or less as usual. Paralympic athletes reported they felt more capable to cope with personal problems and life events and felt less lonely during the confinement than the Olympians. The athletes from team sports reported to be more affected in their training routine than athletes of individual sports, seeing their athletic performance more affected. Athletes in individual sports felt more able to cope with personal problems than athletes in team sports. Female athletes were significantly more tired and reported more difficulty sleeping than male athletes. Conclusion: The situation caused by COVID-19 has had significant effects on the behavior, perception of threat, stress and training patterns of Olympic and Paralympic athletes preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is necessary that sports institutions reinforce mechanisms of help for athletes during future situations of confinement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19)
Article
COVID-19 Prevention Measures Implemented by Tennis Coaches: The Role of Continent, Experience, and Type of Facility
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12679; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182312679 - 01 Dec 2021
Viewed by 449
Abstract
The prevention strategies used by tennis coaches when delivering tennis lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic were analyzed in this study. An ad hoc questionnaire collected data from 655 Spanish and Portuguese speaking tennis coaches working in Latin America and Europe. Differences in the [...] Read more.
The prevention strategies used by tennis coaches when delivering tennis lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic were analyzed in this study. An ad hoc questionnaire collected data from 655 Spanish and Portuguese speaking tennis coaches working in Latin America and Europe. Differences in the prevention measures were analyzed according to the continent, the coaches’ experience, and the type of facility they worked in. Results showed that coaches used information provided from local and national organizations more than from international ones. Hand hygiene, communication of preventive strategies, and changes in the coaching methodology were the most used prevention measures. Latin American coaches and those working in public facilities implemented the measures more often than their European colleagues or those working in private venues. Finally, more experienced coaches showed a greater awareness of the adoption of the measures than their less experienced counterparts. The data provided by this research may assist in developing new specific guidelines, protocols, and interventions to help better understand the daily delivery of tennis coaching in this challenging context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19)
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Article
Remotely Supervised Exercise during the COVID-19 Pandemic versus in-Person-Supervised Exercise in Achieving Long-Term Adherence to a Healthy Lifestyle
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 12198; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182212198 - 20 Nov 2021
Viewed by 583
Abstract
The World Health Organization’s global action plan on workers’ health establishes that occupational health services should carry out lifestyle interventions within the workplace, to prevent the development of non-communicable diseases. The objective of the study was to compare adherence to a healthy lifestyle [...] Read more.
The World Health Organization’s global action plan on workers’ health establishes that occupational health services should carry out lifestyle interventions within the workplace, to prevent the development of non-communicable diseases. The objective of the study was to compare adherence to a healthy lifestyle six months after completion of a multi-component intervention with remotely supervised physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic versus a multi-component intervention with in-person supervised physical exercise before the COVID-19 pandemic in university employees with unhealthy habits and predisposed to change. A prospective cohort study following the “Strengthening the Reporting of Observational studies in Epidemiology” (STROBE) guidelines was conducted, with two arms. Each multi-component intervention lasted for 18 weeks, and consisted of education on healthy habits, Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet)-based workshops, and a physical exercise program. Twenty-one middle-aged sedentary university employees with poor adherence to the MedDiet completed the study. Six months after completion of the intervention, both groups increased physical activity levels, adherence to the MedDiet, eating habits, health-promoting lifestyle, health responsibility, and health-related quality of life. There were no differences between groups in any of the variables analyzed. Therefore, remotely supervised physical exercise could be adequate to achieve long-term adherence to a healthy lifestyle in the same way as conventional face-to-face intervention, at least in a population willing to change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19)
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Article
Association of COMT Polymorphisms with Multiple Physical Activity-Related Injuries among University Students in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(20), 10828; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph182010828 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 426
Abstract
The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a candidate gene to provide promising evidence of psychiatric disorders, but there is a knowledge gap between the genetic factor and multiple physical activity-related injuries (PARIs). The aim of this study was to explore the contribution of COMT to [...] Read more.
The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a candidate gene to provide promising evidence of psychiatric disorders, but there is a knowledge gap between the genetic factor and multiple physical activity-related injuries (PARIs). The aim of this study was to explore the contribution of COMT to the risk of PARIs among university students in the Chinese Han population. We can further search for the intrinsic risk factors for the occurrence of multiple physical activity injuries and provide a scientific basis for early screening and precise intervention for the high-risk group of college students with multiple PARIs. A 1:1 matched case-control study of 61 PARIs cases and 61 healthy controls were carried out. DNA samples of the participants were isolated from saliva and genotyped on eight SNPs of the COMT gene (rs9265, rs4680, rs6269, rs4818, rs4633, rs165655, rs165656, and rs165722) using the MALDI-TOF MS method. We found that rs6269 and rs4818 were significantly associated with PARIs, and rs6269-GG and rs4818-GG contributed to the reduced risk of PARIs. Further haplotype analysis showed a four-marker C-G-C-G haplotype (rs165722-rs6269-rs4633-rs4818) acted with a protective role in the development of PARIs (p = 0.037; OR: 0.474, 95% CI: 0.269 to 0.834). However, the interactions between club membership and rs6269 or rs4818 would significantly increase the risk of PARIs (both p < 0.001, OR: 5.121 and 4.977, respectively). This is the first study to find the contribution of COMT to PARIs occurrence, suggesting that the COMT polymorphisms and the gene–environment interactions may alter the risk of PARIs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport, Physical Activity and Health at Time of COVID-19)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Tennis coaches’ perceptions of Covid-19 impact on their health and professional activity: A multi-cultural approach
Authors: Rafa Martínez Gallego
Affiliation: University of Valencia Gascó Oliag Street, 3 46010, Valencia (Spain)

Title: Quality of life, wellbeing and physical activity in parks at time of COVID-19: results from the “Parks in movement” project.
Authors: Laura Dallolio
Affiliation: Unit of Hygiene, Public Health and Medical Statistics, Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, via San Giacomo 12, 40126 Bologna, Italy

Title: Moving Forward: Understanding Correlates of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour during COVID-19 - An Integrative Review and Socioecological Approach
Authors: Kelly Mackintosh
Affiliation: Swansea University, Wales

Title: Health Promotion and school in time of covid
Authors: Paduano Stefania
Affiliation: Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, Section of Public Health, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 287, 41125 Modena, Italy

Title: Tokyo Olympic Games Swimming Results: impact of the covid-19 pandemic on Olympic swimmers
Authors: De Marie Sabrina
Affiliation: Università di Roma "Foro Italico", Rome, Italy

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