A key weapon in the battle against the spread ofis a or other face covering. But there has been some slightly conflicting advice from health authorities on .
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that a face mask or face covering be worn in public as a protective measure, and that presumably includes public spaces where you would be around others, like a fitness center. But the World Health Organization has said that wearing a mask while exercising is not always the best idea because it can make it difficult to breathe (largely from accumulated sweat).
So if you're concerned about protecting yourself and others while you're working out, where does this leave you -- should you mask up, and, if so, what's the best face mask for exercise?
Infectious disease expert Dr. Sandra Keshthat you should avoid going to group workouts or exercise classes for the time being and try to maintain physical distancing. And keep in mind, even if you're social distancing at a gym, having many people inside and lots of heavy (unmasked) breathing creates an environment where the virus might spread more easily.
For your safety and the safety of others, you shouldn't exercise without a mask indoors around other people you don't know. If you really cannot stand wearing a mask, take your exercise outside.
For those who are really eager to go back to their gyms and fitness studios, where masks might be required or not, here are a few masks that are breathable, moisture-wicking and designed for working out.
Under Armour designed the UA Sportsmask with athletes in mind, but any avid exerciser will find the mask useful if you're looking to upgrade from a standard cloth face mask. The mask is made with three different layers designed to allow airflow while also protecting you.
One layer of the mask has an antimicrobial treatment called "PROTX2" which the brand says, "has been shown in laboratory tests to destroy the coronavirus, and is being reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to confirm the efficacy of the substance as it is applied to the UA Sportsmask."
The Well Movement cloth mask is 50% cotton, so it may not hold up during heavy exercise and serious sweat sessions, but for most activities, it will perform better than a 100% cotton mask since it's also made of sweat-friendly polyester and spandex. The mask contains antimicrobial properties to help prevent bacteria growth.
The ear loops are adjustable, which is a huge plus for fit and comfort. The fabric also provides some UV protection, which is great if you're spending a lot of time walking or exercising outside -- but don't forget to wear sunscreen too.
Carbon38 The Mask Kit comes with two masks, plus a laundry bag for washing. The masks are made with a blend of polyester and cotton, so they're fast-drying and help you stay cool. The ear loops are adjustable for a snug fit, and the masks come in two sizes.
Carbon38 says the masks are made with a multilayer filtration system to help protect you, plus the fabric has antibacterial properties.
Adidas face masks are machine washable and made with soft, breathable material that's a blend of recycled polyester and elastane. This breathable face mask comes in two different sizes for the best fit, and Adidas provides guidelines on how to measure your face to make sure you get the right size.
Working out in yoga clothing is way more comfortable than regular clothes, so why not take the same approach to your face mask? Yoga and athletic wear brand Onzie uses upcycled yoga fabrics to create face masks that are stretchy and dry quickly -- just like your favorite leggings.
Just a heads up: Because the brand is reusing fabric from yoga wear, you can't choose specific colors and patterns, but it's definitely worth it for a more sustainable mask option.
Koral uses the same antimicrobial performance fabric to make its face masks as its activewear, which means they're stretchy and fast-drying. It also provides UV protection. After wearing this mask out on a jog or walk, you can toss it in the wash, since this reusable mask is machine-wash friendly.
What to look for in face masks for exercise
Fabric is one of the most important factors when it comes to exercising with a mask. For everyday activities, cloth masks are fine. But with exercise, cotton becomes damp really fast, which can make it harder to breathe and can promote bacterial growth. So for this reason, masks made with a breathable fabric similar to the kind used in activewear (like spandex or polyester) are your best bet. But still, you want the mask to be breathable and comfortable while you move.
There's nothing worse than having a face mask sag or fall off while you're moving. First, it's just annoying. Second, it will disrupt your workout if you have to stop to fix it, and you'll likely have to touch your face -- which you should avoid doing to stay safe.
Look for a face mask that's adjustable or comes in different sizes so you can find the best fit for you. Stretchy ear loops or elastic tends to fit snugly and won't slide around as much as the masks that tie around your head.
Since sweat and moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria, masks that have some type of filter or antimicrobial coating are ideal for physical activity. (Many of the masks on this list do have these features.) While these may not actually kill or destroy a virus particle, it doesn't hurt to have these extra barriers in place.
Also, understand that no mask on this list can offer a 100% guarantee that it will protect you from the virus, no matter how many fancy features they have. But wearing a mask is simply another tool that can act as an extra barrier to help stop the spread, and help protect you and others.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.