Risks of Using Face Masks During Exercise


As the lockdown eases down to some point soon, gyms and fitness centres are all set to reopen. The pandemic has resulted in the way we socialise o a daily basis and questions such as should I use a face mask during exercise? What would be the consequences? Is it safe to hit the gym? OR How safe is it to touch gymming equipment? are some doubts that this article will clarify.

Face Mask During Exercise

How Safe Is It To Exercise With Face Mask?

It is not recommended to use a face mask while exercising. The reason being face masks restrict the flow of air into our lungs that results in shortness of breath and extreme tiredness. Moreover, facemasks get wet due to sweat if worn over a long period of time. Remember face masks must be worn to follow social distancing norms and not during exercises.

What Happens If I Wear Face Mask During Exercise?

Our lungs inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Wearing face masks, especially during exercising can trap high levels of carbon dioxide causing:

  • Headaches
  • Vertigo
  • Seizures
  • Suffocation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Blurry vision; and
  • Muscle tremor

All of the above symptoms take place primarily due to lack of air. This is called hypercapnia which is caused by rebreathing your own exhaled carbon dioxide if the face mask is worn over longer durations.

Who Should Not Use Face Mask While Exercising?

If you have an underlying health problem that requires exercising then there are ways in which you can continue your fitness schedule without using face masks. People suffering from asthma, heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes etc. can practice social distancing and exercises without face masks. Also, keep in mind that you do not push your limit if you are suffering from the above-listed diseases.

When You Don’t Have To Use A Face Mask?

  • Driving/ riding alone
  • At home
  • When you are in self-isolation

Also Read: Types of Face Mask

How Long Should You Put On A Face Mask?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is recommended that you do not cover your nose and mouth for more than 20 minutes. Instead, you can remove it and inhale some fresh air in an isolated area. The use of face masks is to be used only in crowded places and not otherwise. This will ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of oxygen.

How Do You Know You Are Getting Enough Oxygen While Wearing A Face Mask?

  • Use Pulse Oximeter
  • Shortness of breath

Your lungs inhale oxygen which is vital for your very survival. Simultaneously, the lungs also exhale carbon dioxide which is bad for your lungs. If carbon dioxide is inhaled, it could be life-threatening. So, what matters the most is how much oxygen you are able to take in and how many levels of it is good.

Well, if your a staunch health-oriented person, you can consider using a pulse oximeter to detect the levels of oxygen you intake. The other option is that you simply look at your body’s reaction and decide. If you are facing symptoms such as lightheadedness, shortness of breath numbness or tingling in your body, it would mean that your lungs are not getting enough of oxygen to be transferred to other parts of your body.

Recent Cases

  1. Driver Passes Out Wearing Face Mask

A driver in an SUV crashed into a pole in New Jersey on April 23. When interrogated, he claimed that the collision occurred due to wearing his N95 mask for too long. The case was medically evaluated and reported that the driver had passed out due to insufficient oxygen and intake of higher levels of carbon dioxide over longer periods.

  1. Man Goes Jogging With Face Mask, Leaves Him With Damaged Lungs

A 26-year-old man from Wuhan city in China complained of chest pain and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was diagnosed with lung collapse due to jogging with a face mask on. The victim claimed that he wanted to push his workout schedule harder and jogged for a continuous 6kms, unlike his 3kms jogging routine. He also stated that he experienced shortness of breath, but still pushed his limits thinking that it was natural.


Using face masks during exercising is surreal a bad idea, instead, it is recommended that you stay quarantined at home and exercise. Here are some frequently asked questions that can help you stay updated.

  1. Which is the best face mask for COVID-19? 

N95 face mask is the best face mask that can prevent you from getting COVID-19.

  1. Face masks vs face coverings- which is best? 

COVID-19 is a deadly infection that spreads through tiny air droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Thus, a surgical face mask is recommended over face coverings.

  1. Where can I buy surgical face masks online? 

Choose from Medlife’s wide range of face masks and stay safe. All you have to do is Order, Add to Cart & checkout and get it delivered to your doorstep.

  1. How many hours do surgical masks last? 

A disposable face mask lasts for not more than 4 hours with filtering 95% of bacteria.

  1. Disposable vs Reusable face mask – Which is best?

It is recommended that you use a disposable face mask over a reusable one. The reason is that a disposable one can not be used more than once, while a reusable one has more risks of getting you infected even after being washed.

Using a face mask while exercising is not a good idea and can result in fatal lung complications. If you are a fitness enthusiast and desperately need exercising, consider quarantining yourself at home until things get a little better. You wouldn’t want to come in contact with the deadly COVID-19 virus and so make it a point to use face masks wisely and practice social distancing. Stay home, stay safe!


  1. The mask is just uncomfortable. During the exercises, you cannot breathe normally in the mask. So I also join the advice in this article – exercise at home, not in public places.


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