Hitting the gym? Wearing a mask has hidden benefits, dangers, experts say

Starting today, Governor Kate Brown’s newest mask-wearing requirements went into effect calling for all gym-goers to wear a mask while working out.

Posted: Jul 24, 2020 7:12 PM
Updated: Jul 24, 2020 7:12 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Water bottle? Check. Sneakers? Check. Now add a mask to the list of things to bring to the gym. Starting today, Gov. Kate Brown’s newest mask-wearing requirements are in effect, calling for all gym-goers to wear a mask while working out.

“Honestly I’m surprised people didn’t wear a mask all the time at the beginning of this,” said Oakway Fitness member Ellen Toman. “For people to wear a mask into the gym and take it off right after, I don’t see the point in that. I don’t like to wear a mask but I prefer to wear a mask and be able to work out.”

It’s certainly not ideal to wear a mask while exerting a ton of energy in the gym, but there are some benefits to it. According to studies, wearing a mask during workouts increases your heart rate by eight to 10 beats per minute.

Dr. Rand McClain, who is the Chief Medical Officer for LCR Health, has treated professional athletes in Los Angeles since 2007. He told KEZI 9 News that increased heart rate leads to more calories burned.

“It increases your effort, therefore your caloric burn, which can be translated directly into fat loss,” said McClain. “By making it harder on yourself, your body says, 'Wow I better make more oxygen-carrying capacity in the form of red blood cells.'”

McClain did emphasize the dangers of working out with a mask as well. It can be harmful to exert a large amount of energy for long periods of time because it could lead to dehydration, light-headedness and dizziness and can even result in adverse cardiac effects. He recommends to not do it for longer than an hour.

Some local gyms are doing their best to give members a break from the mask-wearing burden.

On Saturdays, the F45 Training Facility brings the gym outdoors. They meet at Cal Young Middle school to exercise outside where there’s plenty of space and people have the option to wear a mask.

It’s been a great thing according to studio manager Jake Carlile because when gyms reopened, members were still nervous and timid to show up.

“I didn’t get to see the smiles, the happiness, the cheering and that energy that F45 usually brings. That boot camp was the first time I really saw it,” said Carlile. “People were so happy. They were screaming, yelling, smiling and posting themselves on social media. They were begging us to do more because they felt like normal life was happening and they missed it.”

The F45 trainers spend about two hours to haul the equipment to the football field, but according to members, it’s well worth it.

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