The use of a mask has been the subject of much debate since the health crisis caused by COVID-19 began. The obligatory nature of its use in the street and, especially, its use while playing sports has raised some doubts and even hoaxes. One of them claimed that the use of a mask could lead to hypoxia, which we know is not true.
However, there were somewhat more legitimate doubts regarding its effect on our performance. A new investigation, published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, finds that the use of a mask during physical exercise would not affect our performance, at least in the case of people without health problems. Further, also does not appear to influence muscle or blood oxygen levels. Not even during intense exercise.
To carry out the study they had 14 participants, all of them healthy and physically active men and women. For the evaluation they used a mask with three different layers: as Dr. Raquel Blasco told us, the most suitable masks are those that contain an outer layer with waterproof material, an intermediate layer that can be removed and an inner layer with antibacterial fabric.
To assess the results, the effect of the diet, the level of previous physical activity and the sleep time during the 24 hours prior to the test they passed were controlled. This consisted of a little warm-up on an exercise bike and then there was a progressive increase in intensity on the bike. The participants had to maintain a specific pedaling ratio while increasing the intensity. The moment they couldn’t do it, the test was terminated.
This test was carried out three times: the first they wore a surgical mask, the second a cloth mask – with three layers – and the third without any type of mask. What they found was that there were no obvious differences in the performance of the participants based on the use or not of masks. In addition, they did not find evidence in the levels of oxygenation of muscles and blood.
Of course, it must be borne in mind that it is a preliminary study, performed on a very small sample and with very specific characteristics: healthy and physically active young people. In any case, it does provide some security to people with these characteristics who are hesitant about exercising with a mask on.
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