Effects of Wearing Facemasks During Brisk Walks: A COVID-19 Dilemma

Ophir Bar-On, MD; Yulia Gendler, PhD; Patrick Stafler, MD; Hagit Levine, MD; Guy Steuer, MD; Einat Shmueli, MD; Dario Prais, MD; Meir Mei-Zahav, MD


J Am Board Fam Med. 2021;34(4):798-801. 

In This Article


Wearing masks is safe and important to prevent viral spread. That said, we demonstrated that wearing a surgical mask causes a mild, yet statistically significant, increase in EtCO2, as well as mild O2 desaturation, in healthy adults performing a brisk 5-minute walk in a comfortable setting.

While the abnormalities in our study may not be clinically significant, these statistically significant changes should encourage further evaluation of whether masks may cause additional gas exchange abnormalities during longer activity, especially in older people and those with comorbidities.