Wearing a mask throughout the pandemic was an important requirement to delay the transmission of the virus. But what about athletes and people trying to exercise? Masking can cause dyspnea (shortness of breath or shortness of breath) and airflow resistance. The result is problems with exhalation rebreathing, muscle fatigue, and temperature regulation. So does masking interfere with athletic performance?
The simple answer is: it’s not. Some athletes feel shortness of breath and respond accordingly, but there is no physiological relevance to explain this effect.
How to carry out the survey
Twelve healthy young adults (5 women and 7 men), on average 26 years old, exercised on an exercise bike for 5-8 minutes at 70% of their maximum heart rate. They exercised under three different conditions: once through a two-layer surgical mask, once through a cloth mask, and once through a tube connected to a non-rebreathing valve. Some did additional exercise without a mask. Their heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, breathing depth and frequency, oral pressure (flow resistance), oxygen and carbon dioxide levels per breath, and facial temperature were recorded throughout the cycling period.
What the researchers found
While wearing the mask, the airflow resistance appeared to be higher, and the cloth mask caused significantly more airflow resistance than the two-layer surgical mask. Similarly, the perception of dyspnea (shortness of breath) was higher with a cloth mask than with a surgical mask or without a mask, but the surgical mask differs in perception of dyspnea from without a mask. I didn’t. There were no significant differences in heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, or respiration (breathing depth and frequency) between the unmasked and the two masks.
However, the temperature of the face was higher when wearing a face mask than when not wearing a mask. Cloth masks were hot with or without a fan, and surgical masks were hotter than without a mask, but only when the fan was on. Wearing a cloth mask increases mouth pressure fluctuations, but researchers did not consider this important because they also use the mouthpiece used in standard cardiopulmonary exercise tests.
Athletes inhaled less oxygen and more carbon dioxide while wearing the mask than when not wearing the mask. While wearing the mask, they exhaled more oxygen, but less carbon dioxide.
What that means
Given that there are no differences in heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, or respiratory patterns, it seems unlikely that differences in airflow resistance will have a serious impact on athletic performance. Researchers concluded that the change or perceived decline in performance while wearing a face mask was due to the athlete’s unfamiliarity with wearing any type of face cover while exercising. .. Such unfamiliarity can be offensive to people and, as a result, impair their athletic performance.
This means that wearing a cloth or surgical face mask does not interfere with high intensity athletic performance. It may feel uncomfortable or make the athlete feel short of breath, but it has no real serious consequences.
This article was written for the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology and reviewed by the CSEP Knowledge Translation Commission. It is based on the original article by Doherty, CJ, Mann, LM, Angus, SA, Chan, JS, Molgat-Seon, Y., and Dominelli, PB (2021). Effects of wearing surgical masks and cloth masks during cycling. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 1–10.
.. When quoting information from now on, please refer to the original article and cite the source.
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