Table 4

Comparison of face mask and exercise research

AuthorsDesign and maskNumber of participantsAge of participantsTest protocolResults
Driver et al Randomised crossover
design: cloth face mask, no mask
N=31
(14 women, 17 men)
Mage=23.2±3.1 yearsIncremental CPET using a Bruce treadmill protocolImpaired participant performance in key performance variables (ie, reduced exercise time), physiological variables (eg, VO2max, VE, HR, SpO2) and perceptual variables (ie, RPE, dyspnoea).
Li et al 9 Randomised: surgical, N95N=10
(5 women, 5 men)
Mage=28.0±6 yearsIntermittent treadmill testHR was lower during exercise testing in the surgical mask condition. Participants rated the surgical face masks less favourably on perceived humidity, heat and breath resistance.
Fikenzer et al 2 Crossover design: surgical, N95, no maskN=12 men Mage=38.1±6.2 yearsIncremental test on semirecumbent cycle ergometerSignificantly reduced ventilation, VO2max, and comfort in the conditions with surgical and N95 masks compared with no mask.
Epstein et al 1 Crossover design: surgical, N95, no maskN=16 men Mage=34±4 yearsRamped test on cycle ergometerNo significant difference in exercise time, HR, arterial blood oxygen saturation (SAO2) or blood pressure responses across conditions. End-tidal carbon dioxide level during the N95 mask condition (43 mm Hg) was significantly higher compared with surgical mask (40 mm Hg; p=0.04) and no mask (35 mm Hg; p=0.001).
Shaw et al 3 Randomised crossover design: surgical, cloth face mask, no maskN=14
(7 women,
7 men)
Mage28.2±8.7 yearsMaximal cycle ergometer testNo significant effect of wearing a surgical or cloth mask on exercise time, peak power, SAO2, RPE or HR. No cardiopulmonary or ventilatory data were collected under the cloth mask condition.
  • CPET, cardiopulmonary exercise test; HR, heart rate; RPE, rating of perceived exertion; VE, minute ventilation; VO2max, maximal oxygen consumption.