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.

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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.  

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– Infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD.

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