Christopher McLeod1, Ben Black1, Hashane Abey2, Pete Johnson3, & Davis Hale1

1The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma; 2John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas; 3University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas

Most studies conducted on masking while exercising focused on cardiopulmonary responses during staged exercise testing with steady state treadmill running. While these studies have explored more ventilatory responses, the need to determine physiological differences during a continuous exercise circuit with different mask conditions may be more replicable of real-world gym scenarios. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to test how different masks conditions impact heart rate (HR), breathing rate (BR), heart rate recovery (HRR), estimated core temperature (ECC), and subjective mask discomfort (MDI) while completing a four-exercise circuit. METHODS: Following consent, 33 healthy and active college aged students (aged 21.5±2.0; body mass 152.6±30.5; height 68.6±3.8) completed three exercise circuits each with a different mask condition (counterbalanced). Before each testing session, participants were instrumented with an FDA-approved wireless physiological monitoring device. Following a familiarization trial, participants completed a four-exercise circuit (plank, air jump rope, burpee, t-test) with each three masked conditions (KN95, surgical, control). Each exercise lasted 40s (except for t-test), allowing 20 seconds to travel to the next exercise. During the 10-minute recovery period between masked conditions, subjects remained seated with the mask on (or control) for the first five minutes to assess heart rate recovery and also completed a six-item, Likert type scale assessing mask discomfort. For the second five minutes, subjects could take the mask off and were given the option to stay seated or walk around before starting their subsequent circuit. RESULTS: Findings from the one-way ANOVA and post hoc comparisons determined no statistically significant differences between all physiological variables HR, BR, HRR, and ECC across the three masking conditions while subjective mask discomfort MDI scores were significantly different across the three masking conditions (p=.001) with the KN95 demonstrating the most perceived discomfort. CONCLUSION: The usage of surgical and KN95 masks during a four-exercise circuit appears to have little impact on the tested physiological variables even though participants reported perceived discomfort differences between the masking conditions.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge

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