wearing a mask while exercising

The time we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. The stay-at-home orders are easing, and public places are reopening. Great news! Right? Finally, we can go back to being social. 

As we go back to normalcy, social distancing and wearing masks in public places still stands. These regulations are important in minimizing the spread of coronavirus, especially in crowded places, and fitness centers are no exception. 

With this in mind, fitness enthusiasts yawning for the gym energy are stuck with one question: Is it mandatory to exercise with a face mask? So, to help you get to the bottom of this query, this article outlines experts’ opinions on the subject. 

Without wasting time, let’s find out the best practices.

Why Wear a Mask When Exercising?

Working out leads to hard, deep breaths. As you exhale, you release more respiratory droplets than you usually do when relaxing. In a confined place like a fitness studio with several people, this means the air becomes saturated; a risk factor in the wake of the coronavirus. Wearing a mask reduces the risk of contracting the virus in case someone is unknowingly infected.  

That said, experts are digging deeper to find out the impact of wearing a mask when working out. Is it the best practice in the gym amidst the threat of increased COVID-19 infection? Or can it cause more harm than good? Read on and find out. 

Must You Wear a Mask When Exercising? 

The answer is Yes and No. It all depends on several factors. If you are working out from the comfort of your home, it is obvious you won’t need a mask. However, if you’ve embraced the idea of resuming your gym membership, it will be best if you comply with the gym’s regulations.

Experts have noted that it is safe to exercise with the mask on as long as you pay attention to your body. When you start feeling uncomfortable, you can reduce the pace or take a quick break from the workout. 

A few factors to consider when before wearing a mask during an exercise include: 

Type of Mask 

Masks come in different materials. You’ll want to choose one that is right for workouts. Settle for one made of high-quality breathable material. A tightly woven cotton mask with several layers is a great option. In addition, go for masks made of moisture-wicking fabric, which reduces the chance of the mask getting damp.  

Your best option is a synthetic two-layered mask made of breathable material. Such a mask minimizes overheating and moisture buildup. You can also opt for a summer-weight neck gaiter for specific workouts because its design promotes airflow, but it’s not the best option in protecting you against the risk of coronavirus. 

The best way to test the effectiveness of a mask’s fabric is to hold it against the sunlight or a flashlight. If the fabric blocks the light completely, it’s tightly woven and therefore, an excellent option for a workout. 

It is important to carry extra face masks to change if you are going to work out for a prolonged period, say over 30 minutes. And of course,  be careful when removing and disposing of your used mask.

State of Health

Experts have warned that people with underlying conditions such as cardiovascular or respiratory infections such as pulmonary fibrosis, bronchitis, or asthma, just to mention a few must consult their doctor before working out wearing a mask.

Workout Level

Novice workout enthusiasts must be careful when exercising with a mask on. Ensure your exercise is at a low-moderate pace to avoid cases of dizziness or worse, fainting. Veterans are also advised to avoid high-intensity exercises when starting workouts. They should progress slowly from a low-high intensity workout. This is to give your body time to adjust to the high altitude like conditions caused by wearing a mask. 

What Are Your Options?

There is controversy on whether to wear a mask when working out or not. To help you make an informed choice, please consider the fact that wearing a mask in an enclosed gym where there is limited air circulation protects you and others.

Take time and try different exercise masks currently flooding the market until you find one that suits your workout regimen and face.

When you wear a mask when working out, your lungs get extra exercise because of the breathing resistance. Hypothetically, you will perform better once you resume exercising without a mask.  

If you find it unbearable to workout with a mask, you can leverage the many no equipment YouTube exercises and train from home. Another option is to purchase the equipment you need and either workout on your own or hire a personal trainer.

Otherwise, it would help if you stick to the regulations of the fitness studios and the government once the gyms open.

Best Practices When Exercising While Wearing a Mask

The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that people shouldn’t wear masks when working out because it impairs normal breathing. The organization advocates for social distancing when exercising at the gym. On the flip side, wearing a mask can prove helpful if done right.  

When you are exercising, your breathing rate doubles or triples. With a mask, the heart beats 8 to 10 times more per minute. The increased heart rate is pronounced, especially during intense workouts

Thus, it is important to invest in a mask that fits you well. Always ensure your mask covers your mouth and nose perfectly. You don’t want it to slip off in the middle of a workout session. 

Choose masks designed for workouts; they are more comfortable. Lastly, let your body guide you when to take a break. 

Bottom Line

Take heed of your body's response when working out wearing a face mask. Remember, when working out with a mask, the key is to balance the benefits of reducing the risk of infections and the possible adverse effects of wearing a mask when working out. 

Looking for a suitable sports mask to wear while outside?

Check out the Stealth One from Rockface Masks. Now available on the Pull Up Mate store for £14.95 with 5 replaceable filters included and free delivery.

Rockface Masks

About Tyler Read 

Tyler Read is the owner of PTPioneer.com which is a website dedicated to helping people get started in the personal training industry. He helps people discover, study, and pass their fitness exams. Check out his free videos for the latest trends.