Nov 05, 2020 3:00 PM

Wearing a mask doesn’t stop at your local grocery store. To stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, we must do our part and wear a mask where it matters mostin gyms. Exercising is as important as ever, not only for our physical health, but mental health too. Exercising is a sure way to make you breath harder and may increase your perspiration, which could make wearing a mask more difficult, but even more important in the long run.

Christopher Gee MD, MPH, an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery answers questions about wearing a mask while in the gym.

Can masks be harmful to your health?

Masks don’t change the concentration of oxygen that we are able to breath in but rather just restrict the flow of air. We are likely getting plenty of oxygen but the lack of airflow causes an “air hunger” that can make athletes panic and not feel normal.

Is there a safe way to workout at the gym without a mask?

You should definitely wear a mask at all times. Social distancing standards are only helpful when we are not breathing heavily. Once we start breathing, the distances that the virus can spread have been seen over 20 feet.  Gee says we should also consider that if someone with COVID-19 was working out before you, that air is still in the environment. If you cannot stand the mask, I recommend exercising outside.

What should I bring to the gym during COVID-19?

I’d always use a mask and take plenty of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Wipe down the machine before and after you use it. Do not work out if too many people are in the gym or if they aren’t wearing masks.

Do you recommend a type of mask to wear at the gym?

There are different kinds of masks that can provide more airflow and there are reports that some cloth masks like bandanas/buffs don’t really work. Unfortunately, any mask that is effective on COVID-19 will probably limit airflow. I’d recommend doing cardio outdoors or alone because there is a lot of heavy breathing with that. Also, use a good mask, even medical grade if available. If it gets wet, change it out. 

fitness wellness coronavirus COVID-19 face masks

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