As we all know, wearing a mask can help us slow the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. However, many people think a mask can act as a potential barrier when attempting to exercise. If you are already comfortable wearing a mask or whether you’re hesitant about exercising with a mask on, there are different ways to approach staying active whilst wearing a mask.
New research has shown that it is safe to wear a mask while exercising. Your heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen level and time of exhaustion are not significantly affected by wearing a mask during moderate to strenuous aerobic physical activity.
If you’re looking for a specific type of mask that is more suitable for exercise, then cloth masks or masks made of moisture-wicking material, such as polyester, are ideal. Unfortunately, surgical masks don’t work well with exercise, they may break down as they become wet from sweat and increased exhalation. It’s also key to consider having a spare mask on hand to replace a damp mask. A great way to maintain good hand hygiene is to carry a travel-size container of hand sanitiser with you.
For any type of mask you choose, a proper fit is crucial. Put on the mask and make sure it’s comfortable and the right size for your face. Open and close your mouth several times with it on. Does it stay in place, or does it drop down below your nose or even your mouth? If it doesn’t stay in place, keep looking.
The mask should fit snugly but not feel restrictive. The texture of the fabric should not irritate your face or skin. You may need to try several brands and models to find the one that works best for you.
Will wearing a mask affect my performance?
Research has been conducted and results show that surgical masks and cloth masks have no effect on time to exhaustion or peak power.
Who shouldn’t be wearing a mask while exercising?
For most people, wearing a mask during exercise is safe. However, if you suffer from a lung disease or anything else that affects your breathing, talk with a health care professional before attempting any physical activity whilst wearing a mask.
If you experience any of the following symptoms while exercising, stop and take a break until they subside:
- Overall discomfort
- Significant shortness of breath
- Weak muscles