Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-16-2021


BACKGROUNDː Facemask use has been recommended during physical activity to prevent spreading and contracting the virus that causes COVID-19. There have been concerns about negative physiological and perceptual effects of mask-wearing, especially during higher-intensity activities. Emerging research suggests there is a minimal impact of wearing a surgical mask on physiological responses across a wide array of exercise intensities and modalities. However, there are no published data regarding the impact of surgical mask use in hot or temperate environments during high intensity interval exercise (HIIE). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of surgical mask use during HIIE on physiological and perceptual responses in hot and temperate environments. METHODSː Ten healthy participants (5 females; 5 males) completed a total of four HIIE sessions. In a randomized fashion, each participant completed identical HIIE sessions in both hot (HIIE-HOT) and temperate environments (HIIE-TEMP) while wearing (MASK) and not wearing a surgical mask (CON). RESULTSː No differences in other physiological variables were found between MASK versus CON during HIIE. In regard to environmental conditions, HIIE-HOT showed an increase in peak (p = 0.012) and averaged heart rate over the course of exercise (p = 0.003). An increase in reported perceived dyspnea (p <0.001) and average RPE (p = 0.002) was found during MASK compared to CON. Interaction effects showed that the greatest changes in perceived dyspnea and average RPE occurred during the HIIE-HOT/MASK condition. CONCLUSIONSː Wearing a surgical mask during HIIE increases the perception of dyspnea and exertion with the greatest effect occurring in hot environments. Apart from perceptual changes, these data show that there are no other negative effects of using surgical masks during a short bout of HIIE.


Masks, Physiology, Physical Exertion, Perception, Environment

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Christine Mermier

Second Committee Member

Fabiano Amorim

Third Committee Member

Michael Deyhle

Fourth Committee Member

Yu Yu Hsiao

Fifth Committee Member

Bryanne Bellovary