What not to do while exercising with a face mask

While you don’t need to wear a face mask while exercising in the privacy of your own home, you may need to wear one if you’re exercising outdoors where you might come in contact with people. There’s also a possibility that, as we move away from round the clock social distancing and come out of quarantine, wearing face masks will still be encouraged in public.

Exercising with a face mask is new for a lot of people, but even experienced mask users may not know the best way to exercise with a face mask. While it’s safe for most people to perform any exercise with a face mask on, there are some things you should look out for, and some things that you should not do.

Don't exercise with a face mask if you have an underlying health condition

Some people should not exercise with a face mask on at all, such as people with “more severe” respiratory conditions, physical therapist Grayson Wickham told CNET. Before jumping in to working out with a face mask, Wickham recommended checking with a doctor to see if it’s safe to exercise with a face mask if you have such a condition, or if you have a cardiovascular condition.

Even if you don’t have an underlying health condition, you shouldn’t assume that everything is good to go. You should take extra precautions when exercising with a face mask if you haven’t exercised in a while. Wickham said to initially avoid anything more than a low-to-moderate workout in order to avoid dizziness and fainting.

One of the most important things you should do while exercising with a face mask is to be aware. Wickham said that people should “watch out for specific symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, numbness or tingling and shortness of breath.”

Don't overdo it when exercising with a face mask

While wearing a face mask while exercising isn’t dangerous for most people, it’s important to be aware of what happens when you exercise while wearing a face mask. Scott McAfee, a physical therapist, said that wearing a mask will decrease air flow to your lungs, which in turn means there is less oxygen in your bloodstream and muscles, making exercising more difficult. Even people who regularly work out should expect to get tired more quickly while wearing a face mask, but you don’t need to worry about this.

“Over a few weeks, your body will certainly adapt by becoming more efficient at metabolizing oxygen, but this takes time,” said McAfee. “If you start to feel dizzy, imbalanced, or overly fatigued, stop. Be smart [and] don’t over do it.”

Once you’re finished with your workout, don’t forget to wash your mask. You may also want to keep a backup face mask on hand to change into, as your face mask might get damp with sweat as you exercise.

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