For those who returned to the gym or continued exercising outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion about whether wearing a face mask can interfere with breathing while exercising.
A new study found that wearing a mask during a tough workout doesn’t hurt your performance, as gyms across the country mandate mask wear in facilities.
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, looked at whether wearing a face mask affected exercise performance.
Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan were interested to see whether or not masks can affect performance by limiting oxygen uptake by filtering air, which leads to an increase in rebreathing of carbon dioxide, two claims that wearing masks is in Questioning gyms.
However, researchers said it wasn’t – wearing a mask in the gym not only protects you and everyone else, but it doesn’t interfere with your workouts either.
“Our results are significant as they indicate that people can wear face masks during intense exercise without compromising performance and minimal impact on blood and muscle oxygenation,” the researchers said in a press release.
“This is important when fitness centers open during COVID-19 as respiratory droplets can continue to be propelled with heavy breathing during vigorous exercise and due to reports of COVID-19 clusters in crowded closed exercise facilities.”
In the study, 14 fitness attendees did a short warm-up exercise on a stationary bike that increased the intensity and required participants to keep pedaling. This exercise was performed three times by the participants. During each exercise, participants wore either a surgical mask, a cloth mask, and a routine of no mask at all.
To measure breathing, the researchers recorded the participants’ blood oxygen and muscle oxygen levels for each test.
“Our study found no adverse effects on exercise performance of wearing a non-disposable drape or surgical face mask for disposal while vigorous exercise,” the researchers said. “For healthy, active people, wearing a face mask during intense exercise has minimal effects on the oxygen levels of the arteries or muscles and has no effect on exercise performance.”
Masks have become part of the norm since the pandemic started in March. If you go to the gym or exercise outdoors regularly, it is recommended that you wear masks, especially if you exercise indoors.
Fitness guru Dannah Eve Bollig told Ladders that she prefers to wear sports branded masks because the materials are more comfortable than wearing a surgical mask. You have probably seen a number of people who have trained in masks from adidas or Under Armor.
For navigating the gym with a mask, she recommends the following:
“A few tips and tricks that I’ve found very helpful are to bring multiple masks so you can replace yours if you sweat (a wet / sweaty mask can be less effective and make breathing more uncomfortable) with a clean mask or dry. Also, once you’ve put on your mask, never touch your mask, especially after you’ve touched and used fitness equipment. The more you do this, the greater your chance of exposing yourself to the virus. Finally, make sure you have a disinfectant on hand with the CDC recommended alcohol content of at least 60%, and practice social distancing and good hygiene by washing your hands as often as possible. ”
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