Working out with a mask on isn’t easy–but it’s doable, safe, and for some people, it’s necessary. Sometimes you can’t avoid being within six feet of other people even if you’re outside, especially here in NYC. These are weird times, but we do what we have to to adapt.
Now, if you’ve had to work out with a mask on, you know it can be pretty comfortable. It’s harder to breathe with something blocking the airflow to and from your mouth and nose. And it feels hotter with a mask on, especially as you start to sweat. Your heart rate’s a little higher than normal because your body is working harder as well. With all that being said, you can still safely exercise with a mask on, you just need to make a few adjustments here and there.
To start, know your body and know when to stop. If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded, or more tired than usual, take a break (and make sure you’re keeping hydrated). Take longer or more frequent breaks between exercises, take walking breaks throughout your runs, etc. Eventually, if you stick with it, those breaks will become shorter as you get stronger.
There are also many types of masks made of different materials and in varying styles. Find the ones that work best for you. Avoid masks that’ll get wet and soggy easily, especially if you sweat a lot. It’s also a good idea to bring more masks to switch out with. It tends to get even harder to breathe once masks get wet. And think about getting masks that will be easier to pull down when you have room to take a breather. Some sports-wear companies are also making masks that are more exercise-friendly, so check those out (and let us know which ones you like best!).
Rethink your workouts. You might have to have to set your bar a little lower or aim for different goals. Instead of focusing on speed, for example, aim for endurance. Having to work out with a mask on inevitably changes things. Don’t forget to adjust your workouts accordingly, at least at the beginning until you get used to working out with a mask on and learn your own limits. Start slow and work up.
A proper warm-up will also give you an idea for how breathing will be like once you start working out and getting your heart rate up. For some people, the mental aspect of having to work out with a mask on is enough to discourage them from pushing harder. Wearing a mask doesn’t mean you can’t do both.
We’ve worked out how to safely have fitness classes in person during these unusual times, and part of that is asking people to wear masks when they get together–it’s a compromise we’re all willing to make because your health comes first!