Assuming you’re performing a hard workout or exercising outside rather than at a gym (if they’re still open where you live), you may not need to wear a mask.
The requirements vary depending on where you live, so check with the health authorities in your state or territory before going for a workout while limitations are in effect.
How safe is it, what to expect, and how can you ensure your mask is effective? We sought guidance from the experts.
Is it safe to exercise while wearing a mask?
Working out with a mask, according to Jeff Coombes, a clinical exercise physiology professor at the University of Queensland, isn’t necessarily safe for everyone.
If you have respiratory difficulties, cardiovascular worries, or anxiousness, for example, see your doctor before beginning a masked workout.
Professor Coombes says that the sort of activity you perform, its intensity, and the mask you use will all have an influence on your safety.
“Aerobic training is probably less safe for persons with such problems than strength workouts,” he says.
“The stronger the intensity, the more dangerous it is.” [And] different types of masks allow for varying quantities of air to enter and exit.
“Anything that reduces airflow in those who have specific illnesses might lead to dangerous conditions.”
Experiencing dizziness or lightheadedness is a warning indication, according to Professor Coombes, and you should pause and elevate your mask to get extra oxygen into your body.
Even if you don’t have any of the aforementioned illnesses, he recommends keeping all of this in mind and monitoring how you feel during your masked workout.
What to anticipate if you’ve never worked out wearing a mask before?
Professor Coombes says that how you feel when working out in a mask depends on what you’re doing.
Expect to become exhausted sooner if you engage in high-intensity aerobic activity.
“Because you’re receiving less air into your body, the activity seems more intense,” Professor Coombes explains.
“Walking over a level surface at a rapid speed while wearing a mask may feel like walking up a hill.”
Instead, let’s say you want to do something like weight training at the gym. How would that make you feel?
“It’s instructive to consider surgeons, who spend hours in that atmosphere while wearing a mask. That has no impact on their performance “According to Professor Coombes.
“If you’re going to the gym to do some weightlifting, wearing a mask won’t have any effect on your ability to conduct that type of lower-level resistance training.”
Are certain masks more suitable for working exercise than others?
Because the danger of transmission is significantly higher indoors, Raina MacIntyre, head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute UNSW, suggests switching to outdoor exercises while limitations are in place.
If you do not wish to do so, she advises: “You should consider if the ventilation in the place (you’re exercising in) is enough. Is it possible to open a window, or is the air recycled?”
The answers to these questions should help you choose what sort of mask to use when working out indoors.
“The more protective masks that fit well have many layers, are less comfortable, and have higher breathing resistance, making exercise more difficult.
“It would be more protective, but any type of mask would be… Unless it has a hole for a straw or a flap that you can lift to sip from. They are ineffective.
“The essential thing is that you do exhale more violently when you exercise, so keep that mask on.”
If you’re working out outside and require a mask, Professor MacIntyre believes a cloth or surgical mask would suffice.
However, depending on where you live, what you’re doing, and where you’re doing it, you may not need a mask for exercise, so check the limitations first.
How to maintain the effectiveness of your mask?
For individuals who are new to wearing masks, your mask should cover your mouth and nose.
And, according to Professor MacIntyre, a wet mask is much less effective.
So, if you sweat a lot, bring a few with you.
“However, most masks should be fine for a regular workout if just for an hour or two.”
If you need to replace your mask mid-workout for whatever reason, make sure your hands are clean, only touch the straps, and get rid of them securely.
What should you do if your mask is fine and all you need is a drink?
Professor McIntyre recommends keeping a ziplock bag nearby to store your mask in so it doesn’t wind up on filthy surfaces when quenching your thirst.
And, it should go without saying, throw away single-use masks after one use and wash reusable masks after each usage.