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Wear a mask while working out? K-State study says it’s OK

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — When you go to a public gym, is it safe to wear a face mask while working out? It’s a question a lot of health-conscious people have been asking since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Kansas State University kinesiology researchers decided to find out. The researchers from the College of Health and Human Sciences studied 11 healthy men and women as they did various workouts of varying intensities.

They also had the test subjects wear different types of faces masks – surgical, flannel, and vertical-fold N95 – or no mask.

The research team said that regardless of the intensity of the workout or the type of mask, the face masks did not compromise oxygen levels in the blood or lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.

“The team did find that while wearing masks increased feelings of shortness of breath, maximal exercise capacity was not compromised nor were there any significant alternations of primary cardiovascular responses, including arterial pressure, stroke volume and cardiac output, regardless of exercise intensity,” Carl Ade, associate professor of kinesiology, said.

“These data support that wearing a mask, especially when indoors and in close proximity to others, should not be perceived as a barrier to exercise performance,” said David Poole, university distinguished professor of kinesiology.

The team’s study “Does wearing a face mask decrease arterial blood oxygenation and impair exercise tolerance?” was recently published in the journal Respiratory and Physiology & Neurobiology.

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