Coronavirus

Researchers prove masks are safe to wear during exercise

Exercising while wearing a face mask is safe for healthy people to do, according to a new study.

A team of Italian researchers have been investigating breathing abilities among 12 participants to explore whether face coverings impact intense physical activity.

They compared their heart activity during exercise on a static exercise bike with and without a mask on.

Although mask wearing did indicate some change in measurements, there was no sign that it was a danger to health.

Although the experts found differences in some measurements between wearing a mask and not wearing a mask, there were no signs that wearing a mask during exercise presents any risk to health.

Study author Dr Elisabetta Salvioni from Centro Cardiologico Monzino, IRCCS, Milans, aid: “We know that the main route of transmission for coronavirus is via droplets in the breath.

“Research suggests that wearing a mask may help prevent the spread of the disease, but there is no clear evidence on whether masks are safe to wear during vigorous exercise.”

Despite the findings, the official advice provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that no one should wear a mask while taking part in physical activity.

The study showed participants in masks experienced a 10 per cent dip in their exercise, but the researchers think that had more to do with finding it slightly harder to breathe in and out through the fabric.

Dr Mapelli said: “’This reduction is modest and, crucially, it does not suggest a risk to healthy people doing exercise in a face mask, even when they are working to their highest capacity.

“While we wait for more people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, this finding could have practical implications in daily life, for example potentially making it safer to open indoor gyms.

“However, we should not assume that the same is true for people with a heart or lung condition.”

In England, gyms are allowed to open from April 12 and in Scotland they can open from April 26.

Masks are not required to be worn in gyms but some chains may ask members to wear one when entering the gym and moving around communal areas.

The findings have been published in the European Respiratory Journal.

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