October 22, 2020

What’s The Best Type of Face Mask to Exercise In?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist

woman exercising while wearing a face mask

Q: I’d like to wear a face mask when I’m at the gym or running outside. What should I look for?

A: Look for a face mask that sits higher up off your mouth and nose so that you’re not sucking your mask back in when you breathe. You’ll want your mask to fit properly and be comfortable and breathable, but you also want a seal around the nose and mouth. So look for a mask that fits tightly, but allows for comfortable breathing.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Several fitness brands have released face masks specifically for exercising that use moisture wicking fabric or a blend of spandex. These types of fabric can feel lighter and easier to breathe in. Be sure to wash your face mask or use a new one after every workout.

I don’t recommend exercising in vented face masks because those don’t offer protection to anyone. Vented masks are meant for keeping out dust particles when you breathe in, but when you breathe out respiratory and mucus particles can come out as well.

Wearing a face mask is going to make exercise a little more difficult, but it can be done safely. If you exercise with a face mask on, be sure to monitor how you’re feeling and watch for signs of lightheadedness, dizziness and shortness of breath. You might need to modify your workout depending on how adjusted you are to exercising with a face mask on. Someone who has a high level of fitness might not feel the effects of a face mask as much as someone who just started to exercise.

If you have an underlying medical condition, talk to your doctor before opting to wear a face mask while exercising.


– Infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD.

Related Articles

A person coughing and holding their chest
December 2, 2021
You Have COVID-19 — Now What Happens?

What to expect when you’re treated for or hospitalized with COVID-19

older woman sad looking out window
October 8, 2021
How the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic Is Taking a Toll on Mental Health

8 ways to cope with the stress of a long-haul pandemic

covid vaccine
October 6, 2021
Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine If You Have Allergies?

Get the facts before assuming the worst

covid testicular health
September 28, 2021
Can the COVID-19 Vaccine Affect Your Testicles?

Just one more myth to add to the misinformation pile

A group of eight kids dressed in different costumes and wearing medical facial masks
September 24, 2021
COVID-19: How to Safely Enjoy Fall Activities

Best practices when out and about this autumn

A close-up of someone's hands as they hold a coffee mug, their fingernails streaked with white spots.
September 23, 2021
Are “COVID Nails” Real?

These nail changes could be a sign you had COVID-19

covid varient swimming pool
September 17, 2021
COVID-19: Is It Safe to Swim?

Experts share pool safety tips as the contagious delta variant surges

Covid headaches long haulers
September 16, 2021
Headaches and COVID-19 Long-Haulers: What to Know

24/7 pain can last for weeks or even months

Trending Topics

group of hands holding different beverages
November 14, 2023
10 Myths About Drinking Alcohol You Should Stop Repeating

Coffee won’t cure a hangover and you definitely shouldn’t mix your cocktail with an energy drink

Person applies moisturizer as part of their skin care routine after a shower.
November 10, 2023
Korean Skin Care Routines: What You Need To Know

Focus on the philosophy — replenishing and respecting your skin — not necessarily the steps

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 8, 2023
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try