The rapid spike in the coronavirus cases worldwide has made us even more conscious about our health. People around the globe are taking every necessary precaution to keep themselves safe from getting infected from the new strain of the virus. While it is being promoted to practise social distancing and maintaining good hygiene; wearing a face mask has been made compulsory in almost every public place. Even if facemask causes you discomfort or leads to difficulty in breathing, you know you cannot take it off. But what if it lands you in a hospital?
Recently, two 14-year-old boys in China died while running laps for gym class. Both students were wearing face masks during the physical examination. And while there weren’t any autopsies to prove the masks caused breathing difficulties, several nearby school districts subsequently cancelled their own running tests, according to 7News, an Austrial news outlet.
A 26-year-old man from China’s Wuhan city ended up in a hospital with a complaint of chest pain after he went for a jog while wearing a face mask.
As per a report, even though the man was having difficulty breathing, he ignored the signs and kept jogging. To make up for the loss of two months of lockdown, he pushed himself really hard to cover the distance of 6 km instead of 3 km.
After reaching home, he complained of chest pain and was immediately rushed to the hospital. On examination, the doctors revealed that the man’s lungs collapsed due to performing intense workout while wearing a face mask.
Why you should not workout wearing a facemask
While exercise is key to maintaining good health, adding a mask presents a slew of safety concerns. For starters, the face-covering could restrict your airflow, says Lana V. Ivanitskaya, Ph.D., industrial-organizational psychologist and professor in the School of Health Sciences at Central Michigan University. “Mask tolerance is a bigger issue than people realize, especially for people with reduced lung function,” she says. “Physical exertion will make an otherwise tolerable mask intolerable” by causing breathing difficulty.
What’s more, masks become wet when you wear them. This further adds to the discomfort by triggering sweat and nasal secretions—which will especially bother younger kids. Wet masks may also be less effective than dry masks in reducing airborne transmission of COVID-19.
If you’re exercising outdoors, there’s no need to wear a mask if you practice proper social distancing. This means staying at least six feet away from others, says Sarah Fankhauser, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and infectious disease expert at Oxford College of Emory University. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets that can travel up to six feet, so breaking these guidelines may put yourself and others at risk.
You will want to monitor how you’re feeling while exercising and watch out for specific symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, numbness or tingling and shortness of breath.
How to exercise while wearing a facemask
If you are concerned about your health and do not want to workout without mask outdoors, then here are a few things that you must keep in mind.
Check with your doctor – If you or your kid has an underlying health condition (heart disease, reactive airways, asthma, high blood pressure, and so forth), you should always check with your healthcare practitioner to clear wearing a mask, especially if you are going to exercise in a mask.
Set your expectations. Given that a mask can restrict air flow, set your expectations a bit lower and monitor your breathing and heart rate. Make sure kids understand these facts before exercising outdoors.
Don’t touch your face. Before exercising, make sure your mask isn’t obstructing your view, especially if you’re wearing glasses. Carry a clean cloth or tissue to wipe the sweat away and carry hand sanitizer if you are touching your face. It’s also important to clean and dry your mask after each use (Only if it is reusable.)
Watch out for physical exertion. If you feel like you need more air, then pause, drink some water, and take the mask off if it’s safe to do so. Make sure to avoid touching the outside of the mask, and don’t put dirty hands on your face.
Experiment with face coverings. It might take some time to find a comfortable face covering for exercising. You want as many layers as you can tolerate without significant discomfort. They must fit tightly to provide filtration.