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Runners Should Wear Face Masks When Moving Past People, Experts Say

Edward Cooper
·4-min read
Photo credit: master1305
Photo credit: master1305

From Men's Health

A health expert is encouraging runners and joggers to wear face masks during outdoor exercise due to the risk of transmitting Covid-19 "onto someone" nearby.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Trish Grenhalgh, a professor in primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford explained that there was a "danger" of transmitting Covid-19 when breathing heavily during an outdoor run.

"There is no doubt the virus is in the air, there is no doubt that you can catch it if you inhale, and that someone else has exhaled," explained Grenhalgh, an author of over 300 peer-reviewed publications and 16 textbooks. "The exercising jogger – the puffing and panting jogger – you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it, so there’s no doubt that there is a danger there."

"40 per cent of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms – so you’re jogging along you think you’re fine, and then the next day you develop symptoms of Covid, but you’ve actually breathed that Covid onto someone perhaps you know, an old lady walking a dog or something like that." (Continued below)

Devi Sridhar, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said that runners should use face masks in busy areas, but can "take off your mask and run freely" in less populated areas.

"Runners should think, and I do think, where am I running and I’m trying to be attentive to pedestrians, because the sidewalks are there for pedestrians and busy areas and high streets."

"If you’re out in a park then take off your mask and run freely. I think we need some consideration for each other."

Grenhalgh's comments on GMB echo a report from the Royal Society's Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE).

Exploring the benefits of wearing a face mask when outdoors, the report stated "analysis suggests that their use could reduce onward transmission by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic wearers if widely used in situations where physical distancing is not possible or predictable."

"If correctly used on this basis, face masks, including homemade cloth masks, can contribute to reducing viral transmission."

Similarly, a paper published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine appears to confirm that people who wear masks are likely to experience less severe COVID-19 symptoms because they breathe in fewer SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) particles.

Tom Lawton, an ICU doctor from Bradford, recently went viral by disproving a theory that face masks deplete oxygen levels during exercise. Lawton tested the theory himself by running 21 miles wearing a face mask and tracking his oxygen levels.

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"I thought: How can I demonstrate it? How can I reassure people who would like to do their bit and wear a mask but are scared?” Lawton told CTV News. Monitoring his oxygen levels during his run, Lawton used an oximeter to gain real data on how the face mask was impacting his breathing, checking levels every 30 minutes during the run. A reading of 95 per cent or above was considered normal.

"The [reading was] 98 to 99 all the time, completely normal oxygen levels all the way,” he said, proving that he had no breathing problems during the run. "It’s certainly unpleasant and I feel for the people who don’t like wearing them, but this is one of the things that’s going to help us."

The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it’s possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you’re in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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