Mercy Health - Should I Exercise with a Mask On?
Wearing a face mask has become common during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s recommended that you wear one when you’re around people who aren’t in your household. This helps prevent the spread of this virus, which travels through the droplets when a sick person sneezes, coughs or even talks.
People breathe heavily when they exercise. Therefore, it’s possible for COVID-19 to spread when people are working out in public areas. If you can’t practice social distancing, you should wear a face mask when you’re exercising around others. You should also follow these safety guidelines to protect your overall health and well-being during your workout.
Social distancing and exercise
Getting regular exercise is very important for staying mentally and physically healthy. During the pandemic, you might find it harder to stay active, especially if you’re used to going to the gym. But there are many exercises that don’t require you to be near other people.
For example, if you’re going to take a walk, hike, run or bike ride outside, you don’t need to wear a mask — as long as you don’t get within six feet of other people you don’t live with. When you work out at home, you also don’t need to wear a face mask.
Other activities make it hard to practice social distancing, however. When you’re working out at a gym, you should wear a face mask. If you’re at a crowded beach, park or other outdoor location, you should also wear a face mask — when you’re exercising and not exercising. Basically, in any situation where it’s hard to stay at least six feet away from other people, you should be wearing a mask.
Make sure you can breathe well
When wearing a mask, it’s important for you to watch for signs that you need to rest or adjust your workout.
If you’re having trouble breathing, feeling dizzy or feeling too hot, protect your health by:
- Taking your mask off when you’re six feet away from other people
- Stopping or slowing down your workout
- Drinking water to rehydrate your body
- Slowly resuming your workout when you feel better
Eventually, your body will get used to the change of wearing a face mask. But give yourself time to adjust while still staying active.
More safety tips to follow
The type of face mask you wear while exercising is important too. Choose one that covers your nose and mouth. It should fit comfortably so you’re not adjusting it often. While exercising, wearing a cloth face covering may be more comfortable than wearing a medical-grade mask or N95 mask.
Try to choose a material that wicks away moisture. If your mask gets wet quickly from sweat and moisture, it will be harder to breathe. COVID-19 particles also have an easier time entering through wet fabrics. You should bring a second mask with you to change into in case yours gets too wet.
Watch for signs that your body needs to rest so you stay safe. If you have pre-existing breathing or heart conditions, be sure to check with your primary care provider before changing any aspect of your exercise routine.