New Delhi: We all are living in the era of coronavirus pandemic when the new normal is wearing a face mask whenever we head out of our homes or in some cases even indoors, to safeguard ourselves as well as others in the community against the highly contagious virus that spreads through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. But as India unlocks and people start to step out of their home for their daily fitness routine the one common question that is should masks be worn while exercising? NDTV asks the experts.
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Explaining that one should really avoid the use of mask while exercising and instead make sure they maintain a healthy physical distance so that chances of the spread is low, Dr P. Raghu Ram, President of The Association of Surgeons of India said that exercising while wearing a face mask can result in hyperventilation and reduce brain function. He added,
If you wear a mask during exercise it will act as a barrier to airflow, which can lower the oxygen levels in the re-circulated air. Also, you will inhale more carbon dioxide as you tend to exhale more of that during exercise, which if you wear a mask can get trapped and as a result, you re-inhale it. This can further cause excessive breathing or hyperventilation, and reduce brain function. This can manifest as confusion and loss of consciousness as well.
Dr Ram further suggested that it is very important to balance the benefits of wearing a mask versus its adverse effects during exercise. He said,
At a time when there is a rapid surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, wearing a mask in public spaces is absolutely essential. In the absence of adequate evidence-based information regarding the use of a mask during exercise, it would be prudent not to exercise in public places for a few months. However, if you are going out for your fitness routine, it is very important that you take all precautions, make sure you are exercising alone or are maintaining a good physical distance and you are carrying hand sanitiser and following hand hygiene nicely.
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Dr M.S. Kanwar, Senior Consultant, Respiratory, Critical care and Sleep Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi added,
Wearing face masks while exercising can also affect exercise performance. It will impact your pace of performance while running, cycling or any other cardio training. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that heart rate increases during exercise. But wearing a mask during exercise further increases heart rate by manifold, which can cause dehydration, light-headedness and dizziness and can even result in adverse cardiac effects. It also means the people might experience a hard time catching their breath with a face mask on and also might feel worn out and fatigued faster than usual.
Further recommending what needs to be done if you feel exerted, he added,
If you have any symptoms like chest pain, dizziness or laboured breathing while exercising wearing a mask, do not exert yourself. Remove your mask and sit for some time, until you catch your breath.
Suggesting people should opt for home workouts instead outdoor workouts, Dr. Bharat Agarwal, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai, said,
At home, you don’t need to wear any masks, so I advise everyone to maintain a healthy regime in the comfort of their homes. If people prefer jogging outdoors that I suggest run at a slower pace and wear disposable masks as that ensures a decent flow or air in the lungs and prevent them from overworking. On the other hand, wearing a mask and exercising is not advisable for people who have respiratory or cardiovascular conditions like asthma, bronchitis, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It’s important to consult a doctor before attempting workouts while wearing masks.
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The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Union Health Minister DR Harsh Vardhan also advised people not to wear masks while they are exercising. Sharing the revised guideline on social media, DR Harsh Vardhan said, “People should not wear a mask when exercising as a mask may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Sweat can make the mask wetter which leads to the growth of microorganisms which can work in favour of the virus. The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain a healthy physical distance or more than a metre from others.”
Can people wear #Masks while exercising?
People should NOT wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably.#IndiaFightsCorona @MoHFW_INDIA pic.twitter.com/5RV0vWvEcP
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) July 16, 2020
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.