If someone said a year ago that masks would be among the hottest topics in the world today, would you have believed them?
As we all adapt to the new normal that COVID-19 has presented us with, it has become increasingly clear that effective, consistent mask usage is linked to controlling and mitigating the spread of the virus in our communities. Experts agree that masks are one of the critical tools required to safely return to work and other activities, and a key ally in our quest to return to normalcy.
That said, it is a different experience when wearing a mask to run errands versus wearing one during strenuous exercise. Although there is little hard research due to pandemic restrictions, anecdotal evidence suggests that masks may have some adverse effects on the wearer while exercising. Results may vary, but unofficial tests have shown an elevated heart rate, and in some cases lightheadedness, that does not arise when performing the same workout without a mask. IHRSA Supplier member ACE Fitness has issued some great guidance on "Exercising with a Face Covering" that includes more information on these reports.
For active use, multi-layered cloth masks are a great option. Look for synthetic materials—think polyester or spandex—and no more than three layers to help breathability and negate moisture issues. Make sure the fit is snug for effectiveness and comfort.
Industry suppliers have noticed the demand for masks specifically designed for more intense physical activity and different options are now becoming available. Let’s take a look at a few early options.