Wearing face masks is now required in most public places, including most gyms. Even if not required, you may still want to be wearing a face mask every time you leave your home in order to protect yourself and others around you, and that includes while you are exercising.
Why Wear a Mask While Exercising?
Masks are recommended by healthcare professionals and the CDC to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Some scientists are even studying the benefits of wearing a mask during exercise. The more you exercise with a mask on, the more your body can get used to the new oxygen level while you work out and it can actually improve your exercise. Even though wearing a mask during exercise may not be the most comfortable thing, you are still encouraged to wear one to help stop the spread, especially in indoor environments.
Is One Safe While Exercising?
It is safe to wear a face mask when you are exercising. Research shows that your respiratory rate, oxygen level, blood level, and heart rate are not significantly affected when you wear a mask for moderate to strenuous physical activity.
What Type of Masks Should You Wear?
A cloth mask or one that is made using a moisture-wicking material are the ones that work best. Surgical masks may disintegrate when they become wet from increased exhalation and sweat that happens during exercise. Even though surgical masks may break down, they are still considered safe during aerobic training. The use of N95 respirators is also found to be safe. Previous studies of wearing N95 respirators while exercising have shown increased breath resistance, changes in body temperature, and some discomfort. This is not dangerous and it doesn’t affect your overall performance, but it is something that you may want to consider when determining which mask to choose for your activity. You should have a spare mask in order to replace a damp mask from too much sweat. In order to maintain good hygiene when you change masks, carry some travel-size hand sanitizer with you. Remove the mask correctly after your workouts and avoid touching the front area of the mask when doing so, especially the inner layer. Be sure to wash your mask regularly, including after each exercise session. Don’t reuse any mask that is designed for single-use, such as surgical masks.
Does It Affect Your Performance?
Research shows that cloth masks, as well surgical masks, don’t have an effect on peak power or the time it takes you to get exhausted.
Should Everyone Wear a Mask?
For almost everyone, it is safe to wear a mask while exercising. However, for certain people, such as those with chronic lung disease, it’s best to speak with a healthcare provider before doing physical activity with a mask on.
When exercising with a mask, it may feel uncomfortable and awkward at first. However, over time you begin to get more comfortable with the mask, and these feelings decrease. You shouldn’t expect a difference in your performance. However, if you do notice some symptoms then it’s best to stop and take a break. These include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, downiness, muscle weakness, or overall discomfort. If you haven’t worked out in a while then wearing a mask can make it harder to get back on track. Remember that overexerting can also trigger other negative effects, such as low blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, dehydration, and low blood glucose.
If you want to avoid having to wear a mask at the gym, take your workout outdoors. Sweat and sunshine can be the perfect workout combo. If you absolutely can’t wear a mask while you exercise, at-home workouts can keep you healthy during this time.
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