Can you exercise while wearing a mask?
The world isn't getting rid of masks anytime soon. Italy just put a new mandate in place that requires everyone to wear a mask, even while outdoors. With a rough few months behind them and a few spikes linked to nightclubs, Italy is taking steps to make sure people can remain safe. As masks become required, even outdoors, people are asking valid questions that relate to their health (in more than just the virus).
Working out is an essential piece of keeping healthy, especially in a lockdown.
Lockdown hasn't been kind to our waistlines! Months spent indoors, especially in the months when we are usually most active, have been rough on our "Summer Bods." Apparently, watching Netflix for 6 hours a day within reach of unlimited snacks has some adverse effects on our bellies. Who knew?
Does wearing a mask keep you from working out?
With masks being mandatory in most indoor places, the question about working out remains: Is it reasonable to wear a mask while working out?
Thankfully, there seems to be some research done on this topic in particular. The first and easiest piece to cover is working out while outside.
Do you need to wear a mask while outside?
This is an important yet local question. Different cities, states, and countries all have various regulations on outdoor activity. Before anything, check your local news and see what the rules are. In general, however, outdoor activity in a non-crowded location away from people seems to be safe. The critical factor is that you are away from others. A second tip is if you are getting wet while working out (swimming), the best thing you can do is to maintain social distancing and NOT wear a mask. It is incredibly dangerous to secure a wet mask on your face.
While indoors, even if working out, wearing a mask is key.
Wearing a mask while working out (or walking to your car on a hot day) is NEVER a fun thing. While inside, unfortunately, it is still the best thing to do if we want to be socially responsible. If gyms are open around where you live, the best thing to do it to wear a mask if others are around. This is not ideal, but it can save lives and help protect others.
Beware of these things if working out with a mask:
There are a few things that you need to watch if you are going to work out with a mask on.
"Different masks have varying levels of airflow restriction, depending on the thickness of the material," McAfee says. "With less air, your body has less available oxygen to utilize during exercise to convert glucose [sugar] into energy." - CNET
1. Quicker fatigue. With reduced air, your muscles will struggle a mid more to get all the energy they need. As you keep to your routine, your body will adjust over time to the new oxygen limits.
2. Performance drop. This is likely to occur with the reduced intake as well. It may not be ideal to go for your new Deadlift PR while wearing a mask.
3. Lightheadedness/dizziness. If you feel lightheaded, stop immediately and take a break. If things don't get back to normal, take your mask off and take a few deep breaths. When doing so, however, try to maintain 6 feet of distance.
4. Shortness of breath. If you feel shortness of breath, take a break. If things don't get better, do the same thing as lightheadedness and take a break.
Wearing a mask while working out isn't great, we get it.
Unfortunately, it isn't ideal to wear a mask while working out. Unless some revolutionary new tech comes out in the next few weeks, we will have to make do. Thankfully, there are some things we can do to help. The first is to get a breathable athletic mask. They are often made of a mesh that is a bit more breathable than cotton. A secondary "good thing" is your body will adjust and get stronger. Much like athletes training for a mountain climbing trip, your lungs will get used to reduced oxygen, and you will become more efficient!
If you need a laugh and inspiration, check out the video below of a kid running with 10 masks on!
Written by Colby Maxwell