Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing masks and using sanitisers have become mandatory. It is advised that individuals should not step out without putting on their masks, but what if you are going for a run or doing exercise in the lush green surroundings of your park? People tend to remove their masks while exercising in the heat because body temperature or the heart rate is likely to increase, however, a new study published in Sports Health suggests otherwise.
The paper has demonstrated that exercising in the heat with a face mask on does not increase body temperature or heart rate during exercise. Director of Sport Safety at the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, Ayami Yoshihara tested four types of face mask. This included a surgical mask, an N95, a gaiter (the one which covers the neck and goes over the nose and mouth); and a sport mask. In a press release, UConn stated that it was observed that none of them significantly increased body temperature or heart rate compared to the group without a face mask.
In the experiment, participants had to walk or jog for 60 minutes in a 90°F or 32°C environment and carry out low to moderate exercise intensities. Yoshihara and her team went a step ahead to measure the humidity and temperature inside as well as outside the face mask, therefore, a sensor was placed.
It was observed that the sport mask and gaiter became significantly more humid as their materials absorbed more sweat and water vapor from exhaled air. Though participants did report a greater degree of breathing discomfort while exercising with facemasks on, there was no relationship between reported discomfort and measures of body temperature and heart rate.
Yoshihara hopes that the research will be able to help the authorities to carve out guidelines for athletes who are exercising and competing during the summer and fall as the ambient temperatures are still high. Yoshihara has stated that it is feasible and safe to use masks during low to moderate-intensity exercise in the heat.