A guide to wearing a mask while exercising

After nearly six months of virtual workout classes, at-home workouts, and narrowly avoiding cabin fever, you’re probably itching to get back into the gym. As you get back into your in-person workout routine, it’s important to remember that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and safety measures are in place to decrease the spread of COVID-19. In our facilities, we have a  requirement to wear a face mask in shared spaces or when physical distancing is not possible.

With our facilities now open and as we begin to find our new normal, face mask requirements while exercising may seem like nothing more than an inconvenience. Yes, it’s annoying, hot, sweaty, and nobody likes it when your glasses’ lenses fog up every time you breathe – but it’s absolutely necessary in our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. At the end of the day, wearing a mask to protect yourself and others while working out is a necessary precaution to protect our community.

With all this talk about the importance of masks, you probably still have one question: Is it safe to work out in a mask?

In short: yes, for most people.

While there’s still research to be done about the effects of wearing a mask while exercising, most studies and doctors have confirmed that wearing a mask will not negatively impact your health or overall workout experience. It may be a little uncomfortable at first but ultimately it’s nothing that will inhibit your ability to breathe or decrease the quality of your workout.

Here are our tips and tricks for working out in a mask:

  1. Find a mask that is breathable and lightweight. Some athletic companies have already started to produce masks specifically for sports and working out. These masks will often be made from synthetic materials, like polyester and spandex, that are sweat-wicking and don’t contribute to any moisture build-up. Check out Under Armour’s Sportmask.
  2. If your workout is high intensity or longer than 30 minutes, carry an extra mask with you. This will make it easy to switch out masks and decrease the discomforts that might arise from wearing a mask while you sweat.
  3. Try out different mask styles until you find the one that is the most comfortable for you. You’ll want to find a mask that fits tightly but allows for comfortable breathing. Many masks are made with an interior structure that prevents them from collapsing in around your mouth and nose as you breathe. It may take some trial and error to find the best one for you.
  4. Take it easy! Wearing a mask is different and it may take your body a few workout sessions to adjust. If you feel like you’re having trouble breathing or are lightheaded because of your mask, take a minute to catch your breath. Do this by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  5. If you have an underlying respiratory condition or any health condition that impacts your heart and lungs, be cognizant that working out while wearing a mask may not be for you. Instead of taking risks and working out in a place that requires you to wear a mask, work out outdoors or in a place where physical distancing is possible and wearing a mask isn’t necessary. If you need accommodations for wearing a mask while using our facilities, visit our Inclusion & Accessibility webpage.

As we all adjust to exercising during the pandemic, remember that we have your back. From figuring out which masks is right for you to finding alternatives to working out in our facilities, we have something for everyone. Having to wear a mask shouldn’t deter you from playing hard, getting fit, and living well.