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Are Masks Dangerous When Exercising?

I am certain that most of you, including me, are not in greatest of comfort when we are wearing protective masks.   During our routine shopping excursions, being out in public, being around others at work…all of these situations require us to wear masks.  These are required to protect us from being exposed to the virus as well as protect others from being exposed to our breath droplets.

It is difficult enough to wear these masks when performing routine functions, but how about when we exercise?   With our breathing becoming more intense, requiring more oxygen intake and more carbon dioxide expulsion, do these masks present a danger to us?  Here are some general answers:

A person with underlying lung and/or heart disease could be harmed by having a lesser amount of oxygen or higher amount of CO2 in their bloodstreams.  This group of people may, in fact, be harmed by wearing masks during aggressive exercising.  

However, people that have “healthy” lungs and hearts will most likely do no damage to themselves while wearing masks during intense exercise.  The cloth masks usually worn by most allow for good oxygen exchange as well not allowing build up of harmful CO2 levels.

Low blood oxygen levels and high CO2 levels carry with them symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and lightheadedness.  If a mask-wearing exercising person feels any unusual symptoms such as these, that exercise should be terminated and the mask taken off until the symptoms resolve.

Here is Posner’s advice:  Given the fact that many people over 40 may not know if they do have an underlying heart issue, I believe it is best to not wear a mask while exercising.  We also need to remember that cloth masks protect others from our air droplets but we are not protected greatly from being exposed to the virus from others.  I know gym owners will hate me for saying this, but it is so much easier to exercise at home not wearing a mask or be outside, comfortably socially distanced from others and similarly not caring about masks at all.  For now, stay away from close confinement and other people working out close to you.  Peloton sales are exploding for a reason.  Exercising in your underwear and being mask-less at home is safer and more comfortable.

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