Owing to the ongoing pandemic, governments across the world has made it a requirement for the individuals to wear a face mask. However, recent research shows that this could be a huge health risk during exercise.
All the sports events planned for the year 2020 have been postponed till next year, including the Olympics that were supposed to be held in Tokyo this year. Fearing for the deteriorating muscle of the athletes, their trainers are trying to get them up and running again.
Exercising while wearing a face mask is dangerous. Muscle exertion increases, and to provide the muscle with additional energy, lungs breath in more air per minute. The face mask blocks and prevents the increased airflow to the lungs. Not just this, but the exhaled air contains carbon dioxide, some of which get entangled within the face mask. When the air is inhaled, the entangled carbon dioxide is inhaled again accounting for an increased percentage of carbon dioxide in the body and less percentage of oxygen. This is the same as going for a run at higher altitudes where less oxygen is available.
An experiment was conducted where an individual was made to run on a treadmill for three minutes at 10km per hour. They were made to wear sports fencing kit and no face mask was used initially. It was seen that the oxygen level that was being breathed in dropped by 1.5%. However, once they wore a face mask beneath their sports fencing, the oxygen level dropped by 4% which is outrageous and extremely harmful. If exercise was to continue at this oxygen level, they would have experienced severe harmful effects given that they did not faint.
A few deaths have been reported in China, their cause being exercising with the face mask. With the lockdown being lifted in several countries and gyms and sports clubs being functional again scientists and biologists need to conduct more research in this regard.