Wearing Face Masks While Exercising Reduces Oxygen, Increases Heart Rate, Baylor Scott & White Study Says

That’s the result of a six-month study on the physiological effects of wearing a mask while working out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video Transcript

- Does wearing a mask while exercising impact your performance? Well, a Baylor Scott & White health report found that it does. J.D. Miles, looking at the results in a new study tonight to determine the impact that a mask may have on cognitive skills.

J.D. MILES: 31 people took part in Baylor Scott & White's research study that began last year, their vital signs and other data compiled while running on treadmills with and without cloth face coverings.

DR. ERIN REYNOLDS: But ours was the first to look at actual cloth face masks that the general public would wear or that athletes would usually wear while exercising.

J.D. MILES: The study found less oxygen in the blood and an increased heart rate among those who wore masks. It resulted in reduced exercise capacity by 29% and a 14% reduction in the time it took to reach exhaustion. The researchers say the study did not find exercising with a face mask was dangerous, only a limitation. Researchers say the data can be useful to anyone from high-level athletes to average people with active lifestyles.

DR. SIMON DRIVER: It's important as health care providers, as exercisers, as coaches and trainers, that if you're working with an active individual who's wearing a mask, it will impact the physiologic performance.

J.D. MILES: Baylor is starting a brand new study to test the effects of wearing a face mask on cognitive skills while exercising.


I had a chance to take part in the test today at the Star in Frisco.


The study involves riding a stationary bike while being tested for cognitive awareness, both with and without a face mask.

- All right. That was better.

DR. ERIN REYNOLDS: So that's really going to add another layer to help us understand what the participants experiences is while they're wearing a mask while exercising.

J.D. MILES: Baylor Scott & White hopes to have the results of its study on the cognitive impact of wearing a mask while exercising in a few months. In Frisco, J.D. Miles, CBS 11 News.

- Interesting takeaway.