It was widespread knowledge during the early days of the pandemic that it was not healthy to perform rigorous exercises when wearing a face mask, as it may limit your oxygen intake. Many studies and researchers have corroborated the same fact. However, a new study suggests that wearing facemasks while exercising will not affect your oxygen intake, though it might not be the most comfortable.
Early concerns about facemasks and oxygen intake had people worried about wearing them when working out, even when jogging outside. This fear was further escalated after a story broke out reporting that two teenage kids in China soon died after attending physical education examinations with face masks on.
Other studies and experiments have supported that early evidence. A short experiment conducted by Bottoms showed that oxygen concentration dropped while using a face mask on a treadmill compared to without a face mask. The concentration of carbon dioxide also increased while using a face mask. Even the World Health Organization officially recommends that people not wear facemasks while exercising.
A study published by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, however, suggests that wearing facemasks while exercising might be okay, though it won’t always be positive for your body.
“There might be a perceived greater effort with activity, but the effects of wearing a mask on the work of breathing, on gases like oxygen and CO2 in blood or other physiological parameters, are small, often too small to be detected,” says exercise physiologist Susan Hopkins from the University of California San Diego (UCSD). In the study, the researchers went over multiple different types of masks and the response of the body in different types of physical activity.
Though this new study introduces conflicting evidence, the researchers also note that more studies are required in this area in order to draw more conclusive lines about the effects of facemasks on the body.
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