Working out at a gym, going for a hike, biking, and running during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic can be tricky. Maintaining social distance is important in all these cases, and wearing a mask is also important to protect yourself and others. Cordelia W. Carter, MD, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and director of the Center for Women’s Sports Health at NYU Langone, speaks to Women’s Health about what to look for in the best face mask to work out in.
Fit is an important part of choosing your face mask. It needs to cover your nose and mouth, or else it undermines the purpose, which is to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Material is another key factor, but Dr. Carter warns of synthetic or “hi-tech” performance fabrics, like spandex and Lycra. “Masks made from cotton or other higher-thread-count fabrics like breathable polyester are the safest because they offer higher filtration efficiency to more effectively block the transmission of viral particles,” she says. Dr. Carter also recommends multilayer masks over single-ply styles and says to avoid non-breathable materials like plastic or leather when exercising.
Studies have not shown any discernible effects on performance while wearing a mask, so be sure to mask up.
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