The Effects of Wearing a Face Mask During Exercise in Youth Hockey Players During COVID-19

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  • sponsor
    University of Saskatchewan
Updated on 14 June 2021


There is concern that wearing a face mask during COVID will affect oxygen uptake, especially during intense exercise. COVID transmission is especially prevalent in sports such as hockey, where there is close contact between players and arena ventilation is poor. This study will assess the effect of wearing a surgical face mask on simulated hockey performance and blood and muscle oxygenation during cycling exercise.


The sport of ice hockey involves close contact between players in poorly ventilated arenas. This increases susceptibility for transmission of viruses, such as COVID-19. Face masks can reduce the risk of virus transmission; however, there is concern that wearing a face mask during exercise will reduce oxygen uptake or increase carbon dioxide re-breathing, which can result in low blood oxygen levels, reduced oxygen delivery to muscle and reduced exercise capacity. The purpose of the study is to determine the effect of wearing a surgical face mask during exercise that simulates ice hockey play on exercise performance and blood and muscle oxygenation in boys and girls. Twelve boys and twelve girls (age 9-14y) who are experienced playing hockey, will take part in this randomized cross-over study that will assess exercise performance, blood oxygenation (i.e. pulse oximetry) and muscle oxygenation (with near infrared spectroscopy) during an exercise test on a cycle ergometer with workloads and work to rest intervals that simulates hockey performance. Participants will also be tested for repeated-sprint performance on ice while wearing full hockey equipment. The conditions include no mask (a "sham" mask) and a surgical mask. Outcome variables include power output during the cycle ergometer testing, skating distance during the on-ice test, rating of perceived exertion, blood oxygen saturation levels, and oxygenated, deoxygenated, and total hemoglobin at the quadriceps muscle.

Condition Hypoxia
Treatment Wingate exercise test and on-ice testing while wearing a face mask, Wingate exercise test and on-ice testing while wearing a sham face mask
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04874766
SponsorUniversity of Saskatchewan
Last Modified on14 June 2021


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Inclusion Criteria

Experience playing ice-hockey

Exclusion Criteria

Contra-indications to exercise as identified by a screening questionnaire (the "Get Active Questionnaire")
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