Masks and Exercise

While there are several mask types available with varying levels of risk limitation, few are suitable for sports/exercise; and there has been no independent testing of these. So, in keeping with the recommendations of the environmental health officer for Island Health, I am advising against the wearing of masks during dance fitness classes.  The rationale for this is as follows:

  • Moisture from sweat and heavy breathing gets trapped in masks and reduces air flow, potentially limiting your access to oxygen.
  • You may have an undiagnosed breathing problem for which reduced air flow could have serious ramifications, and CPR practices have been modified due to COVID.
  • CPR: In the event of a collapse, no pulmonary resuscitation will be performed as per Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canadian Red Cross, and St. John’s Ambulance. Chest compressions will be given but be advised that your nose and mouth will be covered with a damp cloth/towel to prevent any potential spread of the virus through contaminated air or saliva.

While there are many reports indicating that wearing masks all day is not dangerous (physicians do it all the time), there are few studies of the impact of wearing a mask under duress (i.e. exercise-induced heavy breathing, sweating) for an extended period of time.  It is known, however, that there is no effectiveness at reducing risk if the mask is wet. I have personally found that the mask restricts my breathing even when walking at a moderate pace. 

I will not prohibit you from wearing a mask but be advised you do so at your own risk. 

Note:  The effectiveness of wearing a shield during exercise is unknown, but there is a potential tripping risk due to fogging or blurred visibility through flexible plastic. I will attempt wearing a shield and provide feedback as classes progress.

Updated: December 21, 2020

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