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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2022 Aug 01

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.22.14032-6


language: English

The physiological, perceptual, and thermoregulatory responses to facemask use during exercise: a review

Andrew D. WELLS 1, 2 , Christine M. MERMIER 1, Bryanne N. BELLOVARY 3, Michael R. DEYHLE 1, Yu-Yu HSIAO 4, Fabiano T. AMORIM 1

1 Department of Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences, University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM, USA; 2 Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA; 3 Kinesiology Department, SUNY Cortland, Cortland, NY, USA; 4 Department of Individual, Family, and Community Education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA


The use of masks in public settings and when around people has been recommended to limit the spread of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by major public health agencies. Several different types of masks classified as either medical- or non-medical grade are commonly used among the public. However, concerns with difficulty breathing, re-breathing exhaled carbon dioxide, a decrease in arterial oxygen saturation, and a decrease in exercise performance have been raised regarding the use of mask during exercise. We review the current knowledge related to the effect of different masks during exercise on cardiorespiratory, metabolic, thermoregulatory, and perceptual responses. As such, the current literature seems to suggest that there are minimal changes to cardiovascular, metabolic, and no changes to thermoregulatory parameters with facemask use. However, differences in ventilatory parameters have been reported with submaximal and maximal intensity exercise to volitional fatigue. Literature on perceptual responses to exercise indicate an impact on ratings of perceived exertion, dyspnea, and overall discomfort dependent on mask use as well as exercise intensity. In conclusion, data from the current literature suggests a minimal impact on physiological, perceptual, and thermoregulatory responses dependent on the type of mask used during exercise.

KEY WORDS: Exercise; Mask use; High intensity interval training

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