There’s no question that wearing face masks is an extremely important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it comes to wearing them while exercising, not every health authority agrees on best practices.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone wear face masks in public to protect themselves and others, so that would presumably include public spaces where you will be around others like a gym. On the other hand, the World Health Organization said that wearing a mask while exercising is not a good idea because it can make it difficult to breathe, mainly because the mask gets wet from sweat. So where does this leave you if you’re worried about protecting yourself and others while you exercise?
Infectious disease expert Dr. Sandra Kesh told CNET that you should avoid going to group workouts or exercise classes for the time being. And keep in mind, even if you’re social-distancing at a gym, having many people inside and lots of heavy (unmasked) breathing creates an environment where the virus might spread more easily.
For your safety and the safety of others, you shouldn’t exercise without a mask indoors around other people you don’t know. If you really cannot stand wearing a mask, take your exercise outside.
For those who are really eager to go back to their gyms and fitness studios, where masks might be required or not, here are a few masks that are breathable, moisture-wicking and designed for working out.
What to look for in face masks for exercise
Fabric is one of the most important factors when it comes to exercising with a mask. For everyday activities, cloth masks are fine. But with exercise, cotton becomes damp really fast, which can make it harder to breathe and can promote bacterial growth. So for this reason, masks made with fabrics that are similar to the ones used in activewear (like spandex or polyester) are your best bet. But still, you want the mask to be breathable and comfortable while you move.
There’s nothing worse than having a face mask sag or fall off while you’re moving. First, it’s just annoying. Second, it will disrupt your workout if you have to stop to fix it, and you’ll likely have to touch your face — which you should avoid doing to stay safe.
Look for a face mask that’s adjustable or comes in different sizes so you can find the best fit for you. Stretchy ear loops or elastic tends to fit snugly and won’t slide around as much as the masks that tie around your head.
Since sweat and moisture can be a breeding ground for bacteria, masks that have some type of filter or antimicrobial coating are ideal (many of the masks below do have these features). While these may not actually kill or destroy a virus particle, it doesn’t hurt to have these extra barriers in place.
Also, understand that no mask on this list can offer a 100% guarantee that it will protect you from the virus, no matter how many fancy features they have. But wearing a mask is simply another tool that can act as an extra barrier to help stop the spread, and help protect you and others.
Keep reading for six of the best face masks for your workouts.
Under Armour UA Sportsmask
Under ArmourUnder Armour designed the UA Sportsmask with athletes in mind, but any avid exerciser will find the mask useful if you’re looking to upgrade from a standard cloth face mask. The mask is made with three different layers designed to allow airflow while also protecting you.
One layer of the mask has an antimicrobial treatment called “PROTX2” which the brand says, “has been shown in laboratory tests to destroy the coronavirus, and is being reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency to confirm the efficacy of the substance as it is applied to the UA Sportsmask.”
The Well Movement Mask
The WellThe Well Movement mask is 50% cotton, so it may not hold up during serious sweat sessions, but for most activities, it will perform better than a 100% cotton mask since it’s also made of sweat-friendly polyester and spandex. The mask contains antimicrobial properties to help prevent bacteria growth.
The ear loops are adjustable, which is a huge plus for fit and comfort. The fabric also provides some UV protection, which is great if you’re spending a lot of time walking or exercising outside — but don’t forget to wear sunscreen too.
Carbon38 The Mask Kit
Carbon38Carbon38 The Mask Kit comes with two masks, plus a laundry bag for washing. The masks are made with a blend of polyester and cotton, so they’re fast-drying and help you stay cool. The ear loops are adjustable for a snug fit, and the masks come in two sizes.
Carbon38 says the masks are made with a multilayer filtration system to help protect you, plus the fabric has antibacterial properties.
Adidas Face Covers
AdidasAdidas face masks are machine washable and made with soft, breathable material that’s a blend of recycled polyester and elastane. They come in two different sizes for the best fit, and Adidas provides guidelines on how to measure your face to make sure you get the right size.
Onzie Mindful Masks
OnzieWorking out in yoga clothing is way more comfortable than regular clothes, so why not take the same approach to your face mask? Yoga and athletic wear brand Onzie uses upcycled yoga fabrics to create face masks that are stretchy and dry quickly — just like your favorite leggings.
Just a heads up: Because the brand is reusing fabric from yoga wear, you can’t choose specific colors and patterns, but it’s definitely worth it for a more sustainable mask option.
Koral Infinity Face Mask
KoralKoral uses the same antimicrobial performance fabric to make its face masks as its activewear, which means they’re stretchy and fast-drying. It also provides UV protection. After wearing this mask out on a jog or walk, you can toss it in the wash, since the mask is machine-wash friendly.