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Should you wear a mask while exercising?

wearing a mask while exercising

A surgical mask, also called a medical mask, is the type of simple mask that healthcare workers wear to protect themselves against airborne viruses and bacteria. Correct use of a surgical mask can prevent the wearer from becoming sick from airborne diseases such as influenza and, most recently, the coronavirus.

Until recently, surgical masks were mostly used by healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses, when they were dealing with airborne particles or infectious patients. Although they are still used in this way, after the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019, the general public have been advised to use surgical masks when they are in public or feeling unwell to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus.

N95 respirators, a more intense form of PPE that filters out a higher percentage of airborne particles, are used by most healthcare workers instead of surgical masks. The public are not advised to wear N95 masks for day to day use, as the pandemic has caused a shortage – this means that more healthcare workers are able to have access to the respirators.

Despite the enormous impact that COVID-19 has had on day to day life, some aspects of life have to continue. One of these things is exercise. Whether it is home workouts, going for runs, or socially distanced gym classes, there is no doubt that exercising is great for both your physical and mental health – especially during a stressful pandemic.

You may be wondering if you should be wearing a mask to protect yourself during your exercise. The team at have wondered the same thing, and we did some research so that we can better inform our customer base of the correct protocol.

Here is what we found out:

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health recently published an article where they investigated the effects of wearing a face mask during exercise. Both surgical masks and simple cloth masks were tested. The study participants had to ride a stationary bike to the point of exhaustion while wearing the mask they were allocated. The levels of oxygen in the participants blood was measured with a pulse oximeter, and the level of oxygen in their muscles was also measured.

The results of the study found that the levels of oxygen and the heart rate of the participants was not effected by whether or not they were wearing a mask. They also found that the performance of the participants on the bike was not affected by wearing a mask.

So, wearing a mask while you exercise is perfectly safe – but how do you wear one correctly?

Firstly, you need to take into account the type of exercise you are doing. If you are doing cardio exercise like cycling, running or using an elliptical, you will notice more of an effect from the surgical mask than if you are doing weight lifting. Cardio exercise makes you breathe faster and more heavily, and you may notice that it feels less comfortable to do so when you are wearing a mask. Therefore, as you are getting used to this feeling, you might need to exercise slightly less intensely and take more frequent breaks. If you feel dizzy, you should stop exercising and catch your breath. After getting used to exercising with a face mask on for a few weeks, you will gradually get used to the feeling.

To wear a mask correctly while working out, you should bring a spare, as if your mask becomes soaked with sweat and respiratory droplets, you will need to change it.The type of masks that are recommended for exercise are disposable surgical masks, like the type sold through These high-quality surgical masks are breathable which means that they do not get soaked with sweat easily, and can be disposed of after the workout.

If you are wanting to buy a surgical mask that is high-quality and safe to work out in, check out the range of masks stocked through Protectly. Stay safe, stay fit, and keep wearing your masks correctly.