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Should / Can You Train With A Mask On?

Should you really wear a mask when you’re exercising outside during a Pandemic? How much does training with a mask affect your health? Does it really hinder performance? What if I want to train like an Olympian?

With so many conflicting answers, it’s no question why everyone has so many questions about it. “But, I can’t breathe with a mask on!” is the most common line of non-mask wearers whenever someone would ask them why they don’t have masks on or why they aren’t wearing their masks properly.

A concerned athlete shared this podcast link via DM on Instagram hoping that it’ll help answer some of those questions. The podcast is about the claim of The World Health Organisation (WHO), who recently advised against the use of masks while exercising. Prof. Ross Tucker and sports journalist Mike Finch explore the real risks, the science, and the performance effects of wearing a mask when breathing gets heavier.*


We’ll leave it to you to do your own research about the speaker. But here’s a good briefer about them if you wanna know their background and who they are in the sports world.

Click here to view their credentials.

What we liked about them is they obviously do endurance sports as well and have done field testing themselves. So it’s not just a theory but also an application. Which matters, honestly. Who else would an athlete defer to, right?


The episode is entitled as “Why the WHO’s Advice on Exercising and Face Masks is Wrong” and is produced by The Real Science of Sport Podcast.

The title is pretty much self explanatory but we listened to it and it pretty much answered all our questions about wearing a mask while exercising. But we’d rather you listen to the podcast yourself so you can form your own conclusions.

We’ve sent this podcast link to the top National Team Coaches and it’s safe to say that they’ve disseminated the link to their athletes already.

The link to the podcast is located below this article.


Coach Ani de Leon-Brown has created a summary of the podcast which we are listing down below.

Masks- Should We Train with them?
*Summary from Podcast given by Prof. Ross Tucker, Sports Scientist.

-We have been asked to wear those for the benefit of society, so just get on with it. Yes, it makes it more difficult to breathe, but that in itself is not enough reason to not wear it.

-Of course, it is uncomfortable and of course, nobody likes it but we are using it as our civic duty. Wearing a mask is like wearing a vaccine.

-Basically, the theory that you will be in danger of breathing in too much CO2 because of the mask is a myth. It will not put you in harm’s way if you wear a mask while training!

-What wearing a mask changes, is the PERCEPTION. And while of course, it will hinder your performance, surprisingly, more of this is PSYCHOLOGICAL and just a little bit PHYSIOLOGICAL.

-Physiological performance effects:
Easy to moderate effort- around 5-10% drop in performance.
Harder efforts, 15% and higher drop in performance

-Take note—the type of mask you are wearing matters.
-Indoor Gym Setting: thicker mask.
-Outdoors: thinner mask ok. They recommend a lightweight, breathable type like a BUFF (this is the one that looks like a Tube Bandanna, ex: Headware).
-Don’t use a training mask that has such a huge resistance to breathing.

-If you have to push really hard for a session/ do a time trial effort, pls just schedule this when there is nobody else around you so you can do without the mask.

-As athletes we are always challenging our bodies’ abilities, mentally and physically—and this is just an additional challenge, NOT WORTH THROWING A TANTRUM ABOUT.

*Disclaimer- this is assuming you are a healthy individual and don’t have respiratory problems, to begin with. If you belong in this high-risk group, plan your exercise to be outdoors, when there is nobody else.


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Here’s the direct link:

Featured Image Via: Pohwz
* lifted description from the podcast



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A triathlete making a comeback and a true blue Scorpio. That sums it up quite nicely :)

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