Should you wear a face mask while riding your bike?
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Should you wear a face mask while riding your bike?

Romar Fernando

July 8, 2020

  • While it has been a common sight in streets the increasing numbers of employees and workers who manage to do bike commuting rather than queuing and riding public transportation.

    But in the worsening condition of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the Philippines, it is also a point of discussion whether is it safe or not to wear face masks while riding bike in the street. The discussion was raised because of how strenuous peddling a bike can be for a person, most especially when face mask is on.

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now requires everybody to wear face masks at all public spaces because it helps a lot in preventing the coronavirus to spread. Generally, exercising and even cycling is not exempted to this rule.

    There is an internist at the Crossover Health in San Francisco, California in the United States of America (USA) named Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, MD, emphasized the use of face masks while riding a bike most especially when you are in the middle of densely populated areas.

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    Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, MD / Photo Credit: Kevin MD

    “If you’re biking in a city where others are around you, you should wear a mask. Keep more than the standard six feet between you and others, and if you’re ever feeling unwell, stay home.” Dr. Ungerleider said.

    This might be contrasting to other persons who can exercise and even peddle a bike with their face masks on. But, though it can be kind of constricting to some, the sense is that you should be wary of your breathing as well.

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    Photo Credit: Luis Liwanag

    “Breathing harder, like during exercise, may release more virus into the air as you’re taking deeper and harder breaths. This means it’s possible that breathing during exercise causes more viral spread, especially if you’re outside where the wind can blow, causing droplets to travel even further,” she said.

    Stressing the flow of air, Dr. Ungerleider said, “It’s important to know that wearing any kind of protective mask decreases the flow of air into your lungs, which equates to less oxygen in your lungs and into your bloodstream to your muscles.”

    Cyclists and bike commuters should be always reminded that they cannot perform to the same extent while wearing a face mask. It must be given much attention on how it feels while biking. One must stop biking and take a rest when he/she feels severely short of breath, lightheaded, dizziness, or experiencing numbness or tingling because these are signs that energy and effort is exerted too much.

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    Photo Credit: Cycling Matters

    “Those who are new to biking or haven’t exercised in a long time should take extra precautions if biking while wearing a mask,” she added.

    The doctor also recommends those having pre-existing heart and lung conditions to check with your respective physicians if it is safe for you to bike commute or take cycling as an exercise.

    It is also important, she stated, the proper material of face masks or fabrics that can be used while bike commuting. “Different kinds of facial coverings have varying levels of airflow restriction, depending on the type and thickness of the material,” she explained. Comfortability, air flow, and proper coverings are of primary importance in choosing face coverings while biking.

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    Photo Credit: Luis Liwanag

    On the other hand, if you’re biking in rural areas where almost no one is around, it is safe to ride without any face mask on, but masks should be always in handy whenever you came across with crowded spots. Maintaining distance to one another must be always observed.

    Stay safe and sound.

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