Do not wear a mask while exercising, says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged people not to wear a mask while exercising in a bid to ward off the coronavirus.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport in England, while hospital staff are required to wear medical-grade masks.

The advice around masks has been somewhat muddled. The WHO initially said there was no evidence masks ward off a viral airway infection, like the coronavirus, but they may stop patients passing it on. It has since updated its guidance, claiming face coverings could provide “a barrier for potentially infectious droplets”.

While masks are generally considered beneficial or at least harmless, the WHO has warned they should not be worn while exercising.

Exercise has known benefits for physical and mental health. At the start of lockdown, Britons were not permitted to leave their home except for “very limited purposes”, which included a walk, jog or cycle.

The advice has always been to maintain a safe distance from passersby, but never to wear a mask, even if you have a tell-tale coronavirus symptom – fever, cough, or loss of taste or smell.

Britons with a fever, cough or loss of senses are permitted to leave the house to exercise while maintaining social distancing.

The WHO has now warned donning a mask while being active may make breathing uncomfortable.

It recognises laboured breaths as a “serious symptom” of the coronavirus.

By making breathing difficult, wearing a mask while being active may exacerbate the existing symptom If you are infected.

Sweat may also make a mask wet, further hindering breathing and encouraging the growth of microorganisms, the WHO has warned.

Exposure to microorganisms could trigger an infection that has nothing to do with the coronavirus.

Experts have previously pointed out masks become less effective at warding off viruses when damp, with all of us having moisture in our breath.

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