Cloth face masks don’t hinder breathing during vigorous exercise

December 29, 2020
Cloth face masks don't hinder breathing during vigorous exercise

A study has revealed that wearing a three-layer cloth face mask does not compromise exercise performance or affect blood and muscle oxygenation levels during strenuous exercise, especially by healthy individuals.

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Canada, evaluated use of a three-layer cloth face mask in 14 physically active and healthy men and women. The USask study controlled for the effects of diet, previous physical activity, and sleep during the 24 hours prior to the test.

The exercise test itself involved a progressive increase in the intensity on a stationary bike while participants maintained a required pedal rate; the test was over once they could not sustain the pedal rate.

The test was carried out three times for each participant, once wearing a surgical face mask, once wearing a cloth face mask and once with no face mask. The team recorded the participants’ blood oxygen levels and muscle oxygen levels throughout the test using non-invasive measurement tools.

“Usually a participant reaches exhaustion on this test in six to 12 minutes depending on their fitness level,” said Professor Phil Chilibeck, USask College of Kinesiology. Thankfully, no detrimental effects on exercise performance and blood and muscle oxygenation, due to wearing a cloth face mask was recorded during the study.

Read: New graphene-modified facemasks to offer more effective protection against coronavirus

Chilibeck recommends that people wear masks in a gym, ice rink or other recreational space even though exempt from doing so – this ensures a level of safety, especially in these areas where people may be breathing harder due to vigorous exercise.

“Respiratory droplets may be propelled further with heavy breathing during vigorous exercise and because of reports of COVID-19 clusters in crowded enclosed exercise facilities. If people wear face masks during indoor exercise, it might make the sessions safer and allow gyms to stay open during COVID,” said Chilibeck.

“It might also allow sports to continue, including hockey, where transmission of COVID-19 appears to be high.”

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Category: Education, Features

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