Ingo Froböse used to be a top athlete himself and won silver in the 100 metres at the German Athletics Championships in 1981. Now 63, he is Professor of Prevention and Rehabilitation and Scientific Director of the Center for Health through Sport at the German Sport University Cologne.
Before his appearance at the ISPO Munich Online (February 1 to 5), Froböse describes the profound health and psychosocial consequences of the "stay-at-home" strategy in an exclusive interview.
ISPO.com: Ingo Froböse, the Corona Lockdown is lasting longer and longer and is becoming more severe. Doing sports is becoming more and more difficult. What is your opinion on this as a health and prevention expert?
Ingo Froböse: I think it's dramatic what's happening right now. Last year it was already three months in which sport and exercise were largely restricted, and now it's almost four months again since 2 November, and there's no end in sight. We are producing the sick of the future and provoking developmental deficits in children.
But are the far-reaching restrictions on sporting activities not justified on infection control grounds?
As long as we don't know exactly where the diseases come from, we can't close down whole areas across the board. Everyone knows that physical activity is good for the immune system. Why is it not possible to play tennis indoors without any physical contact when only every second court is occupied and showers are closed? Why is it not possible to use training forms without physical contact in football to train technique and tactics? Why is horse riding not allowed?
Individual sporting activities such as jogging or cycling at a distance are actually completely possible. The gyms have also done their homework in terms of infection control. The danger does not arise in the first place when doing sport, but on the way to sport. It is much more dangerous when many people are standing close together on the bus or subway than when they are doing sports while observing all distance rules.
What consequences do you expect from the "stay at home" strategy of politics?
I have already written several expert opinions on this. We are producing vulnerable groups with it. For example, there are studies on the weight gain in the pandemic: in Berlin, it is an average of three to four kilograms per person. The loss of motor development steps in children is at least as dramatic.
Movement is needed for growth processes and the development of certain cognitive abilities. For example, to stimulate bone growth, children need to jump and bounce. But schools are closed and even when they were open, physical education was largely non-existent. There were sweeping lawnmower measures enacted without thinking. In the process, the children fall by the wayside just like, for example, 800,000 mentally handicapped people in Germany, who need physical exercise in order to act out their emotions.
There are physical as well as psychological consequences of the sport restrictions caused by Corona...
The psychosocial and vegetative consequences are enormous. Sport is one of the most important stress valves. If sport cannot take place, the stress is not relieved. This leads to more aggression in families, for example.
So, although sports could play an important role in fighting the Corona pandemic in terms of social stability and immune defense, it doesn't seem to play a role in the public discussion at the moment....
At the moment, everything is dominated by a small group of virologists and intensivists. The German Olympic Sports Confederation, on the other hand, plays no role in the discussion, just like we experts for sport and prevention. That is a scandal! But there is no need to be surprised about it: Politicians like Scholz, Altmaier or Lauterbach have no real connection to sport.
But professional sports like the Bundesliga were allowed by the politicians...
This is the strategy bread and circuses like in ancient Rome. You can watch, but you can't play. For example, the current handball world championship with all the Corona cases is a real farce. Nobody is talking about the value of sport for health at the moment. Prevention through sport is the only chance to get the galloping costs of the health system under control.
In the current situation, one could also very well educate people about how to support the immune system with a healthy diet. Instead, vaccination is being hyped up as the only way out of the pandemic. Always under the motto: You will get fat, stupid and gluttonous, but you don't have to do anything. And to put it bluntly: I'll get vaccinated too, but medicalization can't be the only solution.
Have you ever experienced such an anti-sports phase in your life?
Never. At the moment we are only a country of business. Volunteerism is falling by the wayside. Clubs are losing a lot of adults and kids. And they won't come back because they've found other options in the online world. Sports venues are losing their value because they are being unjustly negatively stigmatized as alleged disease carriers and thus losing relevance. This will also be difficult in terms of funding in the future because sports facilities have moved to the back of the queue in terms of value to politicians and local authorities. All this is counterproductive for our future.