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Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Kinesiology Exercise Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Human Development

First Advisor

Brilla, Lorraine R., 1955-

Second Advisor

San Juan, Jun G.

Third Advisor

Antush, Maximilian Thomas

Fourth Advisor

Robey, Nathan


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of face masks worn during continuous exercise in distance runners. The physiological and perceived impact of wearing a face mask, especially a cloth mask, during exercise of moderate-vigorous intensities is not well studied in the current literature. Twenty competitive female runners (age 23.1 ± 4.7 years) participated in the study. Three randomized exercise trials were completed wearing a cotton cloth mask, N95 respirator, or no mask while running for 10 minutes at 85% of their maximum heart rate (HRmax). Heart rate (HR), oxygen saturation (SpO2), and heart rate recovery (HRR) were recorded each trial using a finger pulse oximeter. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) using the Borg scale and distance completed (m) was also recorded post-exercise. Mask condition had a significant effect on recovery, both physiologically and perceptually, including HRR (p = 0.030; ηp2 = 0.179) and post-exercise SpO2 (p = 0.021; ηp2 = 0.187) with a small effect size, as well as post-exercise RPE with a large effect size (p < 0.001; ηp2 = 0.531). Although HRR in the N95 mask condition was not significantly different from the no mask condition (p = 0.054), the N95 mask yielded slower recovery in runners. Post-exercise RPE in the cloth (p < 0.001) and N95 (p < 0.001) mask conditions were significantly different from the no mask condition, in that perceived impact on exertion was greatest following the masked conditions. Distance completed was not significantly affected (p = 0.323). Runners should use caution and consider greater recovery periods when wearing a face mask during continuous exercise of moderate-vigorous intensity to accommodate for both physiological and perceptual demands.




Exercise, physiological, psychological, cloth face mask, N95 respirator, moderate- vigorous intensity, female, distance runners, HRR, SpO2, RPE, aerobic fitness


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Masks; Breathing apparatus; Women runners; Long-distance runners; Exercise--Physiological aspects; Long-distance running--Physiological aspects




masters theses




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