Times are hard for lovers of physical activity in all its forms, and amateurs may feel especially disadvantaged. Dissatisfaction of the sports community translates into a lot of fundamental questions, among which the most important is the conundrum – is it safe to wear a mask during physical exertion? Canadian scientists hurry with an answer, supporting their position with conducted research.
For a long time, among people practicing various sports on a recreational basis, there have been voices claiming that masks worn during training significantly hamper the process of taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. At first glance, this sounds like a perfect recipe for hypoxia and too high CO2 concentration in the blood, which in the long run can be disastrous. As it turns out, however, nothing could be further from the truth!
According to a study recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, healthy individuals who wear masks during workouts are not at risk for hypoxia or excessive CO2 concentrations. However, it is worth mentioning that the tests conducted used three-layer masks. As such, the researchers also point out that the results may be slightly different with single-layer ones.
A small Canadian study from the University of Saskatchewan has found that face masks do not hinder breathing for some healthy individuals during even 'vigorous' exercise. Senior author is CSEP member Phil Chilibeck. https://t.co/BBgkXnWf6o
— Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (@csep_scpe) November 4, 2020
Fourteen healthy and physically active people – both men and women – were tested. Before the trial began, their previous diet was taken into account, as well as their activity level and average sleep quality. The experiment was not particularly complicated, as it consisted of a gradual increase in intensity while pedaling on a stationary bicycle. The exercise was repeated three times – in surgical masks, regular fabric masks, and at the very end without any face covering.
During the study, the researchers used non-invasive methods to measure blood and muscle oxygen concentrations among the experimental participants. Ultimately, there were no significant differences in oxygenation between the exercise performed with and without masks. This is great news not only for amateur athletes who can finally stop worrying about their health, but also for sports facilities. After all, there is a chance that their operations will continue during the pandemic if proper safety measures are maintained.
Featured photo: Freepik