Biology of Sport
eISSN: 2083-1862
ISSN: 0860-021X
Biology of Sport
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vol. 38
Original paper

Are elite track and field athletes on track? The impact of COVID-19 outbreak on sleep behavior and training characteristics

Jacopo Antonino Vitale
Stefano Borghi
Roberto Codella
Michele Lastella
Mathieu Nedelec
Giuseppe Banfi
1, 5
Antonio La Torre
1, 2

IRCCS Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Milan, Italy
Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy
The Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science, Central Queensland University, Adelaide, Australia
Laboratory of Sport, Expertise and Performance, French National Institute of Sport (INSEP), Paris, France
Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy
Biol Sport. 2021;38(4):741–751
Online publish date: 2021/10/22
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The Covid-19 outbreak forced many governments to enter a nationwide lockdown. The aim of this study was to evaluate, by means of a survey, changes in sleep parameters and physical activity characteristics of elite track and field athletes in three periods: before the lockdown (T0), during the lockdown (09th March – 03rd May 2020, T1) and the first month after the lockdown (T2). This study was conducted from May 2020 to June 2020 and data were collected using an offline survey with 89 elite track and field athletes (mean age: 24.7±5.4; n = 43 males; n = 46 females). The survey consisted of demographic data and questions on physical activity and sleep behavior at T0, T1 and T2. Athletes reported lower sleep quality scores at T1 compared to T0 and T2 (p < 0.0001) and registered delayed bedtime, wake-up time and longer sleep latency during the lockdown compared to pre-lockdown and post-lockdown whereas no changes in total sleep time were reported. No inter-group differences were detected in sleep characteristics between short- and long-term disciplines and between genders. The weekly training volume decreased from 16.1±5.7 hours at T0 to 10.7±5.7 hours at T1 (p < 0.0001) whereas no significant differences were detected in training volume during the lockdown in relation to the square footage of the house (p = 0.309). Alcohol (p = 0.136) and caffeine intake (p = 0.990) and use of electronic devices (p = 0.317) were similar pre-, during, and post-lockdown. The unprecedented circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic had negative impacts on the Italian track and field athletes’ sleep and

training volumes.

Sleep quality, Sleep-wake cycle, Lockdown, Sars-Cov-2, Pandemic, Exercise

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