Partner Content – Exercising with a Mask: What’s True, What’s Not, and Why Haven’t You Tried it Yet?

Many aspects of your life have probably changed and the typical “keys, wallet, phone,” check we conduct when leaving our homes has inevitably evolved into “keys, wallet, phone, mask… Shoot I forgot the mask!” (Please remember your masks!) Love it or hate it, wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is still recommended by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control. But as restrictions have lessened and our worlds start to ever so slowly return to normal, what does mask wearing mean for everyone here at Club Fit? What is it like? Is it safe to exercise with a mask?

While this is certainly not for everybody, most members who have given us the benefit of the doubt and returned to try working out in our new normal have given us positive feedback. One member noted that he was surprised that he did not find his breathing was restricted like he anticipated it would be. Another member mentioned that she was hesitant to return with a mask but then found, tried, and loves a product known as a lip guard. The plastic device is placed over your mouth and pushes the mask away from your face to increase the air flow within the mask. This member has since recommended the lip guard to everyone she knows who exercises with a mask on. A third member I spoke with discussed how working out with a mask is not her favorite thing in the world, but at the end of the day, she wants to work out more than she wants to remain inactive as this winter season keeps piling on the snow (cross your fingers, we’re trying to bring back outdoor classes in March!). Finally, I personally don’t really notice a difference in my performance or breathing when exercising with a mask on if I am being completely honest with you. My only discomfort stems from sweating in a mask, which then just reinforces that I am actually doing a good job with my work out, and then it doesn’t bother me anymore. But enough with the subjective approach… What does science say?

Many studies have been conducted within the last year examining the effect of wearing a mask while exercising. Epstein and colleagues conducted an experiment where participants were randomly assigned to exercise with no mask, a surgical mask, and an N-95 mask. There were no significant differences between the groups in their heart rates, respiratory rates, blood pressure, oxygen saturation levels, or time it took for them to reach exhaustion from their exercise (moderate to strenuous aerobic activity). These results suggest that wearing a mask during exercise is safe for healthy individuals and that the differences between the groups were negligible at best. Another study examined whether individuals jogging for thirty minutes at normal pace were affected by wearing a mask. Participants jogged with or without a mask and their oxygen saturation levels were measured before they started jogging and then every ten minutes for a total of four recordings.  Measures of oxygen saturation at all time intervals and across both groups did not significantly differ, implying that those who worry about getting enough oxygen while jogging should probably not bother worrying. A final study examining exercise performance while wearing masks randomly assigned participants into groups who did not wear masks, groups who wore surgical masks, and groups that wore cloth masks. Using a cycle ergometry test, participants in all groups exercised to exhaustion. Data from this experiment show no differences between groups in regard to oxygen saturation levels, tissue oxygenation indexes, ratings of exertion, or heart rate. Subjective ratings of exercise performance, which were measured in time to exhaustion and peak power, were not significantly different between groups. All of this evidence suggests that while working out with a mask might not be the most exciting idea, it is not something that will hurt you if you are a healthy individual.

As we progress through these difficult times, we will have to be flexible, open minded, and learn to adapt. We will have to find a new normal. Fortunately, we will not have to do this alone. Club Fit is here for you. With every precaution possible, we have adjusted our new normal with your safety as our number one priority, and our members have come together as a community to help ensure each other’s health and safety as well. From our meticulous cleaning efforts, to our investments in scientifically proven sanitation products, to our staff’s commitment to enforcing physical distancing and safety guidelines, to our member’s support of our efforts, Club Fit intends to remain a safe environment for our members to exercise and maintain their physical activities and health. We are doing our part to move forward, and we only ask that you at least try out doing the same! The masks are not as bad as they might seem, why not come find out? Come stop by for a tour. Visit: www.clubfit.com/membership-inquiry to schedule a tour or contact us at bradvisor@clubfit.com for Briarcliff Manor, or jvadvisor@clubfit.com for Jefferson Valley. We’ll see you soon!

Sarah Sowards is a Club Experience Assistant at Club Fit.

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