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Should You Wear A Face Mask While Running?

With the COVID pandemic taking a toll on the life of many, we need to keep a check on the fitness factor of our body and keep it in the healthy range. For this, we need to be physically active.

Now, a question arises in many people’s mind, whether it is important to wear a mask while running or even walking. You might also wonder whether the benefits of wearing the mask outweigh the risk.

According to the CDC guidelines, it is recommended to wear a cloth face-covering in public settings, where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.(1)

Should You Wear A Face Mask While Running?

Why Should You Wear A Mask While Running?

Mask Reduces The Spray Of Respiratory Droplets Preventing The Spread Of The Virus

You should wear a mask to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 pandemic. Mask acts as a barrier to prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling into the air onto other people. When people cough, sneeze or raise the voice, these droplets go airborne.

You can wear a cloth mask that is breathable and does not restrict oxygen intake or cause carbon-dioxide build-up.

Always consider where you are running while thinking whether you should wear a mask or not.

If you are running outside and can maintain social distance the entire period of running, maybe wearing a mask is not necessary. There is evidence of the droplet and aerosolized spread of coronavirus, but most experts agree that the transmission of the virus outside is very low. For keeping away from catching the virus, you need to follow the below-mentioned tips:

  • Do not run in crowded places without a mask
  • Avoid running in groups
  • Drafting off the runners can increase the likelihood of virus exposure, hence should be avoided.

The mask acts as a barrier and makes you breathe harder, which means you would get fatigued early than usual. But, most people would get adapted to it over time.

Mask Prevents Breathing In Droplets Preventing COVID-19 Exposure

Mask help prevent the spread of the virus to other people. Also, runners breathe heavily than walkers. The mask keeps the respiratory droplets from spreading to others. According to a recent study, in the Netherlands, 6 feet may not be enough distance to protect you from breathing in droplets exhaled by another person.(2)

In the result of this study, it was indicated that the largest exposure of the trailing person to the droplets from the person in front of him is when the trailing runner is in line behind the lead runner.

To minimize this risk, researchers advise avoiding running in the slipstream of the leading person and keeping a distance of 1.5 meters in a side-by-side or staggered position.
This could be another reason that would make you consider wearing a mask while running.

Following The State’s Mask-Wearing Guideline Is Also Mandatory

If you live in a state that has made wearing masks mandatory, then when you leave the house either wear a mask and move out or carry one along.

Whether to wear a mask or not depends where you are running or exercising. If heading out to a popular trail, put on a mask, or if going for a walk or run in an isolated place then just pack in a mask just in case you would need one.

The downside of Wearing A Mask While Running

Wearing a mask can prevent the spread of COVID-19, but has a few downsides linked.

Mask Would Increase The Workout Difficulty

Wearing masks while running or doing high-intensity exercises would affect the airflow and increase the workload and heart rate.

CDC does not recommend wearing a mask during running as it can cause breathing difficulty. In case you experience any of the following symptoms, stop and take off the mask.

There Would Be A Need To Change The Mask If It Gets Wet With Saliva Or Sweat

If the mask gets wet with sweat or saliva, it is important to change it and sanitize the hands after the removal.

Types of Mask That Can Be Used While Running

There are a few important factors that you need to consider before buying a mask for running:

  • The mask should be of lightweight and moisture-wicking fabric
  • The mask should be well-fitted and should cover the nose and chin
  • It should not be of thick fabric or a fabric that would make you feel restrictive
  • It should have adjustable ear straps
  • There should be an adjustable nose strip, that can be molded to the bridge
  • Wash the mask after each day of the run. You can buy a few pieces of masks and keep them in rotation for use. If going for a long run, consider carrying an extra mask.

To stay physically active during this pandemic, you can consider the safety measures and continue the activity you do. You can wear a face mask while running with the above-mentioned guidelines, but keep in mind the negative sides as well.

If experiencing dizziness, light-headedness, shortness of breath, or labored breathing that goes beyond normal, stop running immediately and remove the mask. If the symptoms worsen reach medical help.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 25, 2021

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