Effects of surgical and cloth facemasks during a submaximal exercise test in healthy adults.
Respiratory medicine. 2021;:106530
BACKGROUND Surgical (SM) or cloth facemasks (CM) has become mandatory in many public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. They may interfere with the participation in physical activities. OBJECTIVE To evaluate how these masks influence dyspnoea (primary outcome), exercise performance and cardiorespiratory response during a 1-min sit-to-stand test (1STST), and to assess masks discomfort sensations. METHODS A randomized crossover trial was conducted in healthy adults. They performed 3 1STST (with either no mask (NM), a SM, or a CM) separated from each other by 24-72 h. The number of 1STST repetitions and leg rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured. Dyspnoea (Borg scale), hearth rate, respiratory rate and SpO2 were recorded before and at the end of 1STST, as well as after a short resting period. Several domains of subjective discomfort perceptions with masks were assessed. RESULTS Twenty adults aged 22 ± 2y (11 males) were recruited. Wearing the CM generated significantly higher dyspnoea than NM at all time points, but it only became clinically relevant after the 1STST (median difference, 1 [95%CI 0 to 1]). The SM generated a small but significant higher leg RPE than NM (median difference, 1 [95%CI 0 to 1]). The masks had no impact on 1STST performance nor cardiorespiratory parameters. Both masks were rated similarly for discomfort perceptions except for breathing resistance where CM was rated higher. CONCLUSIONS In healthy adults, the CM and SM had minimal to no impact on dyspnoea, cardiorespiratory parameters, and exercise performance during a short submaximal exercise test.