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How masking affects exercise

While wearing a mask to reduce risk of infecting someone with coronavirus is becoming a common practice, researchers are now looking into how it affects our bodies while we are working out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we cover our faces while in crowded places, and in gyms when our respiration doubles or triples, (which it should) while sending out higher numbers of respiratory droplets. Since many University Labs are closed, these recommendation are being researched on a small scale, as to how it restricts our own breathing and lung function.

According to the president of ACE (American Council of Exercise), “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” He said that the heart rate is about 8-10 bpm higher when you wear a mask as when you do not.” This could lead to light-headedness and dizzyness.

One option is to choose neck gaiters or masks that are made of synthetic, breathable materials instead of surgical masks that become easily wet when breathing vigorously. Some companies to look at are Under Armour, Koral and Zensah. And finally, my favorite option is to exercise outside in fresh air, in solitude, where and when there are few people around.

According to Dr. Ji-Young Rhee, Professor of Dankook University, College of Medicine, there have been zero cases resulting from fewer than five students per session or from low-intensity yoga or Pilates classes EVEN IF THEY WERE TAUGHT BY AN INFECTED INSTRUCTOR. Clearly the benefit lies in small class size, distancing and low impact. Another very important aspect of reducing infection risk from airborne virus particles is to move group classes ouside where the breeze can easily disperse people’s expired breaths.