The English Institute of Sport (EIS) has re-launched a campaign to promote hygiene and tackle illness in Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
The EIS Athlete Illness Prevention Campaign, spearheaded by Dr Anita Biswas, Mike Brownlow and Faye Hodson, aims to reduce the number of athlete illnesses and raise increased awareness of the behaviours needed to promote health and wellbeing.
Gift boxes containing items such as anti-viral hand foam, surface wipes, ColdZyme and chewing gum, all of which may reduce the risk and impact of illness, are being distributed to athletes via their EIS sites.
The campaign was initially set to launch in Spring, during a period of typically high illness volume, but was temporarily put on hold due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown.
With training centres gradually reopening, the process of sharing gift boxes with athletes has now restarted, at a time when promoting good hygiene and wellbeing behaviours is more important than ever.
This initiative is part of a wider EIS strategy to reduce the number, and performance impact, of illnesses across the high performance sports network.
Mike Brownlow, Athlete Health Consultant at the EIS, said:
“We know we can’t stop everyone getting ill, but by following certain behaviours consistently such as good hand hygiene, we can reduce this risk. It’s also important to ensure people manage symptoms and seek help early when they do get ill. This will help minimise the impact of their illness on lost training days – the whole gift box package is designed around these ideas.
“The importance of good hand hygiene has of course come to everyone’s attention due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s a hugely important factor in reducing the risk of catching many illnesses.”
The EIS Athlete Illness Prevention Campaign is a follow-up initiative to the EIS Festive Season Project at the end of 2018, which involved the dissemination of a similar gift box to athletes and contributed to a reduction in days lost from training due to illness at a high risk time.
Mike Brownlow added:
“The main priority of the campaign is to promote the health of athletes, and staff, and stimulate their thoughts at a time of high risk – by keeping well, the athletes will be able to train optimally and compete to the best of their ability.
“We want this campaign to have long lasting effects – people are still talking about the Festive Season Project in 2018, and sports continue to approach us and say ‘the impact was amazing and our athletes still talk about it’.
“The idea is that people continue talking about its impact because the messages remain pertinent throughout the year. However, we are all human and behaviours like this can slide so then the pressure is on us is to come up with fresh ways of delivering the same messages for maximum impact.
“This is absolutely something we’re like to do more of going forward – the messages don’t change, and it’s just the way we deliver them that do.
“The question now is what we do next!”