The use of a protective mask during physical exercise has been discussed since the beginning of the epidemic. One study concluded that although it causes some discomfort, a cloth mask does not interfere with breathing patterns and cardiovascular physiology.
According to a statement from the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (Fapesp), the research shows that it is a myth that wearing a mask during physical exercise would be harmful, affecting, for example, people’s oxygen saturation.
“Using protection did not significantly alter the body’s performance during moderate to vigorous exercise,” says Bruno Gualano, a professor at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine (FM-USP) and author of the article, in a note.
In the study, 17 healthy men and 18 women performed stress tests on a treadmill at different exertion intensities. Study participants with and without a three-layer fabric mask ran in another session, so that the comparison could be made.
We also examined measures of cardiovascular function, oxygen saturation and acidosis. The conclusion was that the disturbances induced by the mask were very small, particularly at less-than-maximal intensity, and capable of delivering enormous health benefits,” says Gualano.
Another highlight of the study was that the results were generally similar for both men and women. Gualano stresses that the study’s findings make it possible to formulate new recommendations for physical exercise during the pandemic. The research team is now studying the use of masks during physical exercise with clinical groups and children.
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