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Can masks impair lung function during exercise?

New York – Face mask do not significantly change breathing pattern or flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide when worn while doing exercise.

The physical barrier created by masks has prompted concerns that they might impair the cardiopulmonary system by making it harder to breathe, by altering the flow of inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide and by increasing dyspnea.

Dyspnea is a medical term that describes shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, especially during physical activity. For healthy persons, the effects of wearing a mask on these physiological markers were minimal, no matter what type of mask was worn or the degree of exercise.

The authors also said age played no significant influencing role among adults. Gender differences were deemed inconsequential.

“Wearing a face mask can be uncomfortable. There can be tiny increases in breathing resistance. You may re-inhale warmer, slightly enriched CO2 air. And if you’re exercising, the mask can cause your face to become hot and sweaty,” Hopkins said.

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