Can wearing masks during exercise cause problems related to breathing and oxygen in the body? The answer comes from science
When we taste a dish, we already know that what one person likes crazy makes another turn up their nose. The reason? Each of us has a different perception, in terms of taste. Something similar, given the due proportions, can happen if we take a run with the face well covered by a mask: there are people who fear not being able to breathe, others who are perfectly adapted to the effort. Again, everyone's perception counts, defining the type of response and sensation that is created.
But for science, is it possible to think about doing sustained physical activity with commonly used protective masks? According to the latest studies, apart from the possible feeling of discomfort, it seems that in healthy people there should be no problems related to breathing and the oxygen available to the body.
Let's remember the rules
First of all, a clarification necessary to understand what we are talking about and not to get confused. Moving, in fact, is good for everyone. But we must not confuse the classic physical activity that every person can perform and which is desirable at any age with the classic sporting activity which instead provides very specific rules and situations. Understanding this difference is fundamental because, although recommended in all cases, masks are mandatory for those who walk, perhaps even at a fast pace. Those who are practicing a real sport, on the other hand, if they manage to have the right distance from others, can also avoid wearing them.
That said, however, it remains to answer the key question: Is it true that with templates you risk more shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties, when exercising or maybe the availability of oxygen to the body falls right because of the protection? Science today says the answer is no, at least according to the latest research contribution in this sense, which comes from research that appeared in Annals of the American Thoracic Society and conducted by a coordinated team from the University of California at San Diego. by Susan Hopkins.
The scholars have practically done a sort of meta-analysis, that is they have taken into consideration a series of studies that have been conducted in a carious way, with more or less intense physical activities and also with face masks. The answer that comes from this in-depth analysis is very clear: it is true that for many people the mask can give the feeling of not being able to breathe well, especially during intense physical exertion, are not identifiable effects "measurable" in terms of presence of gases in the blood. In other words, although it is true that people may perceive a feeling of breathlessness or believe that the effort to breathe is greater, there is no evidence that this turns into real changes in the oxygen that circulates.
In any case, the experts conclude that these indications are valid in general terms, but must obviously be adapted case by case. For example, for those who have heart disease and are doing their physical activity, the use of the mask must be indicated by the doctor. And the same is recommended for those who have to deal with chronic respiratory diseases in even a mild form, such as asthma and COPD. In these conditions, in fact, even a minimal drop in oxygen availability, even without strenuous sporting activity, can prove to be counterproductive for health.
Perception and reality are different
The study, which represents a fixed point in the discussion on the theme of masks during physical activity, therefore proposes a reflection. Sometimes what we perceive and what seems to us hardly bearable on the psychological front only marginally affects the physical aspect. According to a report in the research, both in men than in healthy women and at any age, wear the mask does not involve significant changes on different parameters, just as the need to "push" with the bellows of the lungs to support the effort, values of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, the blood supply to the heart and brain.
However, there is one thing to say. When you make an effort, the mask "warms" the face and causes sweat to accumulate, this feeling is certainly annoying. But still far more bearable than the possible risk of virus infection. So, in this cost-benefit calculation, we keep these aspects in mind. And then we decide accordingly, remembering however that it is always important to keep the distance and wear the mask, when required.