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Winter-proof sports facilities - remaining active during the cold months of the year
It often arrives more quickly than expected - the first frost. Although winter days are significantly milder as a result of climate warming, winter hasn't disappeared completely. But the severity of the season varies significantly by region. Whilst in some areas large volumes of snow are completely normal, elsewhere conditions are simply cold and frosty. In many places there are virtually no outdoor sports practiced during this period, apart from pure winter sports activities. But why is this? Can outdoor sports facilities really not be used in winter?
Well, this isn't a question with a simple response. It depends - as so often - on the individual case. In that of football, for example, the surface of the pitch is key. Grass pitches need to be used sparingly during cold periods, while tennis courts can be played on although the frozen surface may make things tricky for the players. Artificial grass pitches, on the other hand, can generally be played on throughout the year. However, if there is snow on the pitch it needs to be thoroughly cleared away and great care must be also taken if there is a heavy frost. This is because the fibres of the artificial pitch can break if they freeze. Though playing on the surface in such conditions can be rather unpleasant, so many players prefer not to. But as long as nothing is frozen, there's nothing to prevent a game from taking place. The same, incidentally, goes for synthetic running tracks. But on both sports fields and tracks it is important that all the signs of autumn are cleared away before winter sets in. This means removing leaves and tree debris in particular. Such debris not only may freeze but can also cause accidents - in particular on smooth running tracks.
The same goes for roller sports facilities, which can also be used as long as they are clear of snow and ice. While the winter in itself shouldn't necessarily cause problems for facilities, the safety of users is paramount. Before winter arrives, in addition to the abovementioned cleaning activities, an inspection should be carried out for possible damage. If, for example, water penetrates through cracks in concrete structures, a great deal of damage can be caused in the event of frost. The watering of sports facilities should also be avoided as far as possible.
In essence, and this is worth emphasising again, outdoor sports can also be practiced in winter using suitable facilities. That in practice only a few hardy souls venture outside is above all down to personal sensitivities. And every sportsperson should be aware - there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment. And for the metabolism year-round exercise is naturally the optimal solution - this is beyond dispute.
Anyone who wishes to guarantee year-round use of their facility, however, must take more comprehensive measures. A roof, for example, provides protection from precipitation and also from leaves and other debris. Underground heating naturally provides excellent protection from frost, but outside the realms of professional sport its installation isn't really a viable option. Effective covers are a far more affordable alternative.
For all operators of sports facilities there is one hard and fast rule: regular checks must be undertaken if they are not closed for the entire winter. For although it is possible to practice sport in winter, there is an increased risk of injury among sports practitioners. This means all preventable risks should be dealt with in advance. However, anyone who properly operates and maintains their sports facilities is unlikely to experience problems. So in conclusion: in principle it should be possible to practice sports using outdoor facilities in winter, too. Only in extreme weather conditions should care be taken - but this is the case whatever the time of year. So it's possible to practice sport outside throughout the year - and those who remain active will certainly enjoy the health benefits!
Image: ©Dziurek – stock.adobe.com