As some indoor gyms and fitness spaces reopen, and summer weather allows more outdoor exercise, the topic of wearing protective face masks during exercise continues to get folks perspiring. To mask or not to mask, when exercising outside? That is a question for the 6 feet social distance rules. And if you want to go back to the gym, a face masks is required or some type of face coverings, how can I find one that doesn’t leave me extra-sweaty, or inhibit my breathing? Click here to BUY YOURS ON AMAZON.COM: https://amzn.to/2IZLNDo

“For the purpose of protecting others in case you are a carrier, wearing masks in public should be followed based on public health need, whether you are exercising or not,” says Suzanne Lukovics, physical therapy director at Austin, Texas-based Georgetown Living Home Health. While wearing masks outdoors during exercise isn’t mandated in most states, the risks of transmission during exercise just aren’t known yet, she says — so, like much of the public, Lukovics relies on the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health organizations.

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“There is some talk about droplets suspended in air for a period of time, but we have to remember that exposure to Covid-19 seems highly tied to ‘viral load’ as well,” she says. “So things like being exposed to air droplets with Covid-19 would be less problematic if you were, say, jogging past a place where droplets were, versus working out hard for 45 minutes next to a person who may be carrying Covid-19 and is talking loudly, coughing or breathing hard during their workout next to you.”

For the record, Lukovics says she would wear a mask while jogging 3 miles outdoors, with a running buddy. And masks may indeed affect one’s ease of breathing, the physical therapist says. “With all exercise, your body’s demand for oxygen increases to support your muscles.”

PHOTO: iStock

 

But how that affects a person’s breathing pace is relative. “An elderly person who has never exercised will be winded with very little activity, even without a mask,” she says. “Anyone who wears a mask during exercise, regardless of intensity, will likely feel more breathless than they did without a face covering — even if it’s a lightweight, disposable mask.”

However, Lukovics emphasizes, it’s worth it. “Our amazing bodies will accommodate over time and we will seem less breathless with each encounter of using a mask while exercising,” she says. “If we have the choice to prevent the spread, and ‘endure’ a bit of a harder workout for our lungs, we should do it for the greater long-term good.”

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Plus, wearing a mask, regardless of its protective efficacy, Lukovics says, “can provide a visual cue to others that ‘I care about you, and am willing to withstand some discomfort’ during this unprecedented time. And when we are finally able to safely exercise maskless again, our workouts will seem easier for a change!”

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