EXERCISED OVER NOTHING
Some of the resistance to wearing masks during the pandemic was fueled by the notion that the nose-and-mouth coverings impaired breathing, and thus cardiopulmonary function, especially during physical activity.
But a November 16, 2020 study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers, with colleagues in Canada and Washington state, found that while masks might feel uncomfortable, perhaps making one’s face hot and sweaty, there was virtually no empirical evidence that they significantly impaired lung function, even during heavy exercise.
— Susan Hopkins, MD, PhD
“There might be a perceived greater effort with activity, but the effects of wearing a mask on the work of breathing, on gases like oxygen and CO2 in blood or other physiological parameters are small, often too small to be detected,” said first author Susan Hopkins, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and radiology.
Hopkins and co-authors reviewed all known scientific literature on the topic, including analyses of inhaled and exhaled gases, blood oxygen levels, effects on muscle blood flow, cardiac function and blood flow to the brain. There were no detectable physiological differences based on gender or age. The only exception were persons with severe cardiopulmonary disease in which even the smallest resistance to breathing might prompt dyspnea, the medical term for shortness of breath.