Wearing a surgical mask during hockey will not impact children’s performance, according to a new study from the University of Saskatchewan amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study looked at the effect mask wearing had on youth hockey players between the ages of nine and 14.
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“COVID-19 is quite easily transmitted during hockey,” said principal investigator Phil Chilibeck.
“The players are playing close to each other, they’re breathing hard, and the arenas don’t have that great of ventilation.”
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Researchers found wearing a mask didn’t negatively affect players’ performance on the ice, and didn’t have much impact on their physiology.
“A little bit lower oxygen levels at the muscle but not enough to impact their performance,” Chilibeck noted.
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However, he said some participants reported they felt like they were exercising harder.
“If they’re wearing masks while playing hockey, that’s something to consider. Maybe a coach would want to implement a shorter shift for those players,” he said.
Researchers said they hope the study encourages players, especially those unvaccinated, to mask up while taking part in the game.