Exercising while wearing your mask. What research says about it.

Around the world, masking rules and regulations continue to evolve. As gyms open and close or capacity limits decrease, individuals need to continue to be cautious and respectful of others. Fortunately, research suggests that it is safe for healthy individuals to wear a mask while exercising while reducing the risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19. In general, it is recommended that individuals start exercising at a lower intensity to get used to wearing a face-covering before returning to regular levels of intensity.

In one study, subjects were perceived to have less airflow while wearing a mask during exercise, but the data showed no difference in blood, tissue or muscle oxygenation levels. This may be caused by psychological factors such as feeling claustrophobic or thinking there would be a decreased airflow and therefore their rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was higher.

When to wear a mask:

  • Always when inside unless you’re by yourself or in your home

  • Outside if others will be within 6-10 feet of you, but you may pull it down when the area has cleared

Health/safety concerns when wearing a mask:

  • Possible increased heart rate

  • Possible increased breathing rate

  • Possible headache

  • Possible dizziness/lightheadedness

Health/safety concerns when NOT wearing a mask:

  • Contracting COVID-19

  • Spreading the virus (with or without being symptomatic)

  • Other severe illnesses


Individuals with chronic diseases should exercise alone in their own homes without a mask and with supervision, if necessary. Those who have comorbidities and participate in exercise should be aware that face coverings may increase the body’s physiological responses. It’s best to start off at a lower intensity and gradually increase the intensity, possibly over a couple of months. Staying active is important but staying safe is paramount.


Embracing universal masking policies in fitness facilities can help avoid future lockdowns, especially when these policies are combined with other interventions such as social distancing, frequent handwashing and effective ventilation systems. Wearing masks can also make others feel more comfortable being back in public exercise spaces. Of course, as virologist Paul Digard of the University of Edinburgh notes, “Masks work, but they are not infallible… therefore, keep your distance.”

Citation- https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/7768/exercise-and-face-coverings-what-does-the-research-

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