University of São Paulo: In moderate intensity activities, mask use does not cause physical changes

Does exercising with a mask affect performance and health in any way? Professor Bruno Gualano, from the Department of Internal Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine (FM) at USP and a specialist in Exercise Physiology, explains that wearing masks does not alter physiological activities. On the contrary, it protects against covid-19 and there are still studies that show that they can even improve the performance of physical activities.

“Dance, weight training and squash classes. What do these environments have in common? They are closed and crowded places, practiced mainly in gyms, where they have the greatest risk of infection”, highlights the professor in an interview with Jornal da USP 1st Edition . Unlike the misinformation that circulates about masks, Gualano says that there has been research since the beginning of the pandemic that proves with a degree of excellence the importance of using masks in these environments to avoid contamination.

“To attack the use of the mask, many people attack basic principles of physiology, but there is no controversy”, he warns. He says that there are lies circulating about physical exercise with masks, such as decreased saturation and increased cardiac activity. “It has already been proven that in activities with moderate intensity, those that we can talk to the colleague next to us and recommended by the World Health Organization, there is no change in oxygen saturation, perceived exertion or cardiac alteration. What can cause these situations is if the individual is infected with covid-19.”

Adaptation issue
The professor points out that even people with comorbidities and transplants did not show changes when doing exercises using a mask. He still tells the example of children in poorly ventilated classrooms. In these situations, parents can put the mask on their child to protect against infection. “There is not even the perception of fatigue on the part of children who continue to wear the mask”, he comments.

Practicing exercises with the mask is a cause of discomfort for many people, but it is a matter of adaptation that can even improve physical performance, according to Gualano. He makes the comparison with training in high altitude locations: “There is evidence that using a special altitude mask improves training performance results,” he says. “If the use of the mask persists, my guess is that, if there is a change, it will be for the better”, adds the professor.

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