Types Of Face Masks

Different masks have varying levels of airflow restriction, depending on purposes, material and its thickness. With fewer air, the body has less available oxygen to utilize during exercise, affecting respiratory system. Different types of masks include:

•    N95 mask: N95 mask or respirator is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit. N95 type is the most common particulate-filtering facepiece respirator. It can prevent viral droplets due to the efficient filtration of ultra small particles. However, N95 mask increases the effort in breathing and it may cause a significant discomfort while exercising. Although some N95 masks have an exhalation valve on the front, it does not help to breathe easier. Besides causing breathing difficulties and shortness of breath during conducting exercise, wearing N95 can reduce physical fitness level and performance.
•    Surgical mask: A surgical mask is intended to be worn for preventing infections via liquid droplets and aerosols. If surgical mask is worn properly, it can also cause breathing issues and fatigue. And as the weather warms up, wearing surgical masks could become sweaty and uncomfortable, leading to more frequent touching of the face and nose which may increase the risk of viral transmission.
•    Cloth mask: Even though a cloth mask is more convenient to wear and considered an alternative for personal protection, it cannot filter fine particles and prevent viral transmission during direct exposure to droplets produced by sneezing or coughing.
•    Face covering: A cloth face covering should fully cover the mouth and nose while allowing comfortable breathing. It can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head. Even though a cloth face covering can reduce the droplet dispersion in case of sneezing or coughing, its effectiveness in filtering tiny particles or droplets is considerably limited, compared to surgical mask and N95. In addition, wearing a face covering at all times can also impair ventilation and induce breathing problems.

Given the current circumstances, at-home workouts is highly suggested in order to contain viral transmission and reduce risk of infections. If exercise is conducted in private or isolation areas, wearing face mask might be unnecessary. Especially outdoor exercise, social distancing must be strictly complied with since droplets contaminated with viruses from infected people when sneezing or coughing might spread further due to speed and wind velocity. To conduct a safe exercise, congested areas and vigorous-intensity exercise should be avoided. In addition, type of exercise and mask should be selected appropriated based on individual’s conditions. Furthermore, all preventive measures must be strictly followed. If any abnormal sign or symptom exhibits, medical attention must be sought as soon as possible.

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