I went to the gym recently and I noticed that while the gym required people to have a mask before stepping into the gym, less than 10% of the people in the gym exercising did not have a mask on. Why do we feel the need to take off the mask while exercising? What do we think are the consequences of wearing a mask while exercising?
I asked a few questions to the people in the gym and here are some of the reasons why they do not wear masks while exercising.
1. They said that masks cause carbon dioxide to build up which is bad for my lungs
Let us answer this: There is no evidence that states that wearing masks for a long while will cause a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs. Can they be humid? Yes. This can be easily sorted by making sure you are wearing a mask that does not trap humidity, for example; cloth masks. You can go with more than one mask and change as they get wet
As a doctor, I have worn masks for hours during surgery that are tighter than the average face mask and I had no problem with breathing. The same way masks allow oxygen to pass through, is the same way carbon dioxide can pass through on its way out, disregard this.
2. They can be uncomfortable
Yes, I agree, I will not invalidate your experience, but have you considered the fact that you may be wearing a mask that is uncomfortable? There are face masks that tighten around your head and not around your ears which causes most of the discomfort while exercising. Find one that works for you
3. I am healthy, I do not need masks
Yes, you might be healthy and fit at the moment, but have you considered that you might get the virus from that gym, especially seeing that people grunt and scream usually at gyms and this facilitates the spread of the virus. It is very possible for you to get the virus and pass it to on to others who might not be so lucky. Do not think about yourself alone. Think of others.
4. It affects my performance at the gym
For people who do cardio exercises, masks might be uncomfortable, it happens, however, note that it does not affect how much oxygen your body takes in. If you notice that it affects your performance, here is what you can do; Start small, do not do your cardio exercises at high intensity then slowly increase it, after a while, your body gets used to wearing a mask and your intensity is back to normal.
What does this mean?
Research has shown that the coronavirus responsible for COVID19 is spread mainly through droplets from your respiratory tract. These droplets are spread when you talk, sing or shout. In a gym, there is a lot of this going on with exerted breathing which further spreads droplets into the air. There is a higher chance of you catching or spreading this virus when a face mask is not worn. Besides a new study has shown that wearing masks do not affect exercise performance, at least in healthy individuals. They noticed that their blood oxygen levels with or without masks were the same.
For your safety, it is best you wear a face mask when going to the gym, however, if you are exercising alone, there is no need to wear a mask for example, in your home.