Can That Face Mask Make You Sick?

Safety is key during this time of Covid 19. Not only for your own protection, but for the protection of those around you. Most are practicing social distancing, wearing masks and gloves and staying home as much as possible. The last trip to the grocery store was a maze of caution tape and arrows on the floor directing people to shop in a controlled manner. I have no problem with that and appreciate the efforts these businesses are putting into action on behalf of our safety. I did happen to notice that I was getting lightheaded and almost hyperventilating from the prolonged use of my face mask. I asked Michael how he was feeling and he was eager to leave for the same reason. I had on a material mask and he wore one made from gauze and we both felt thew same effects.

The following day we decided to go to the local park for a morning run. We each avoid crowds and in fact, we will run loops to avoid a congested area. After our run we discussed the many runners we seen running with a mask on. The few I noticed had a soaked mask and seemed to be laboring. Reflecting on how a short period wearing a mask felt, we couldn’t imagine it was safe to run in. Curious, I decided to research this.

Since this is a new phenomena there isn’t much research, but this is what I found. Masks reassure people with whom you share paths or sidewalks while running, especially since we’re usually sweating or panting when we pass, but exercising with a face mask limits the amount of air intake which may cause resistance to breathing and may attenuate your running performance.

Masks also become quickly wet which can cause the mask to lose antimicrobial efficiency. Therefore the mask traps your exhaled breaths and turns the lower part of your face into a mini-sauna trapping nasal secretions and mucus. If you wear glasses, they will most likely fog up and minimize your vision.

If you decide that you must wear a mask while running or cycling, the best type is a buff, tubular facial covering that doubles as a headband or neck gaiter and can be stretched over the nose and mouth. Buffs are usually made from thin, synthetic fabrics designed to reduce heat buildup and, since they are open at the bottom, promote more airflow than standard mask.