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To Gym or Not to Gym...Fitness freaks' dilemma

Fitness freaks’ dilemma
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Fitness freaks’ dilemma

Highlights

  • Treadmill or bike exercises with masks on are likely to put fitness enthusiasts at health risk
  • Medical experts advise them to shun N95 masks and wear face shields instead
  • Gym and fitness centres set to open from tomorrow onwards after a 5-month closure since lockdown imposed in March

Hyderabad: With gym and fitness centres set to resume from August 5 onwards, fitness freaks visiting these places are being told to be extra careful by medical experts. People have got so used to wearing masks for the last five months whenever they have to step out of their houses, but they need to watch out if they intend to visit gyms.

Sweating it out on the treadmill by jogging, running or doing brisk walks or on an exercise bike with face masks on, especially N95, will lead to health complications.

Whenever a person is exerting themselves physically, he or she breathes heavily but a mask impairs the amount of oxygen coming in, and this can lead to hypoxia, which can manifest as dizziness or breathlessness. Mask tends to hinder the amount of oxygen one is breathing in much like what happens at higher altitudes.

Dr V V Ramanaprasad, a Senior Pulmonologist from Hyderabad, stated that one experiences giddiness, headache, breathlessness, increased heart rate if they don't get enough oxygen and in worst cases the body colour will change to blue or can lead to brain damage or heart attack also.

"Normally, we inhale 21 per cent of oxygen. At higher altitudes, the percentage of oxygen is less than 21 and hence one experiences breathing problems at such places. Wearing masks also hinders the amount of oxygen one breathes," Dr Ramanaprasad said, suggesting people to wear face shields in place of masks.

People having prior health issues, including hypertension, cardiac issues, obesity and chronic respiratory problems should avoid wearing N95 masks while jogging or doing rigorous exercises, a doctor said. Surgical masks are okay but the problem is if one does sweat into the mask it loses its antimicrobial property.

Dr Suneetha Narreddy, Infectious Diseases Specialist from the city, stated that it's a tricky situation to work out in gyms which are mostly air-conditioned with no free and fresh air circulation most of the time.

She felt that gym owners should let open windows to allow fresh air inside besides taking all other precautions prescribed by authorities. In all, it's a piquant situation for the fitness freaks who are eagerly waiting for the gyms to reopen.

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