Is is safe to workout in a face mask? 🤨
The short answer is: yes. It is less comfortable that no mask, but it is completely safe.
There are misleading memes circulating on social media claiming that wearing face coverings can cause carbondioxide poisoning. These are BS. I could try and reinvent the wheel, but these folks have done a great job of compiling the relevant facts.
To put things in perspective, If you are wearing a surgical mask (N95) with a good seal for 4+ hours, yes, your blood oxygen levels may drop by as much as 2%. However, using a cloth face mask for one hour of fitness is not at all the same thing – different material, different seal, and way less time.
5 Tips To Make It More Comfortable to Workout in a Mask
Until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus it is a very good idea to wear a face covering or shield when you are exercising indoors. Maybe we will have some workarounds that still keep you safe in the near future, but we don’t right now.
While the masks are safe to exercise, they can be a little uncomfortable and here are some tips:
- Turn up the AC: one of the biggest sources of discomfort and fatigue are from trapped heat. Turning the AC down a few degrees helps a lot. In general, we like to keep the studio at 64 with the fans and dehumidifier going. (Here’s more about how heat, not lactic acid, is actually what makes your muscles tired and stop.)
- Try the disposable medical masks: the thick, fashionable masks are effective, but they trap a lot of heat. We’ve tested several options and the disposable medical masks seem to be the best.
- Make sure it has nose wire: the nose wire is the piece of metal in the nose part of the mask that you can bend to fit your nose. The nose wire makes a huge difference in how well the mask stays put, and really improves the experience.
- Be patient: humans are the dominant species on the planet because we are the most adaptable – we thrive in the Arctic, the equator and everywhere in between. The more times you workout in a mask the easier it gets because your body adapts to slightly reduced air flow and being able to dissipate heat elsewhere. Also, by this time next year we shouldn’t need to wear masks anymore.
- Try a face shield: there is some evidence that they may be more effective than masks/coverings, and they definitely eliminate the airflow restrictions and heat trapping of the masks/coverings. They only make your forehead really itchy when you are wearing it for hours on end.