A new study has shown that wearing a cloth face cover during exercise reduces performance and physical performance.
According to researchers, masked joggers also reported increased shortness of breath and claustrophobia when exercising at higher intensities.
The results of the small clinical study were published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM).
What follows is a controversy where scientists have suggested that wearing a mask while running past people would help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Trish Greenhalgh, professor of health sciences in primary care at the University of Oxford, said there can be a “hazard” to pedestrians when a “puffing, panting” jogger runs past them.
“The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath coming, and sometimes you can even feel them breathe in. So there’s no doubt that there is a danger there,” she told Good Morning Britain.
Previous research on the effect of face coverings on exercise has mostly looked at surgical masks, which are not widely used, researchers said.
The results published in the BJSM were based on the training performance of 31 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 29 who ran on a treadmill to exhaustion, one with a cloth cover and one without.
The majority of participants (30) agreed or strongly agreed that it was more difficult to put maximum effort into wearing a mask.
Some described feeling “claustrophobic”, “choked” and “fearful” from being unable to “take a deep breath”.
Researchers say the physiological effects of wearing cloth masks while exercising are poorly understood, and recommendations for wearing face masks while exercising vary around the world.
However, they said the results “do not fully explain how wearing masks could directly impair cardiovascular function” and therefore concluded that “discomfort associated with wearing masks” led to decreased performance .
The researchers recommended changing exercise variables, such as frequency, intensity, and type of face covering, accordingly.