Should you wear a mask at the gym?

key takeaways

  • Some fitness centers or gyms require members to show proof of vaccinations or wear a mask when exercising.
  • In facilities that do not have a mask mandate, people still have the option to wear a mask.
  • For vaccinated and unvaccinated members, wearing a mask can reduce the spread of aerosol droplets while exercising.

Gyms and fitness centers reopened with limited capacity and “new normal” requirements, such as showing proof of vaccinations and limiting the number of exercise stations.

But some fitness trainers and gym members say they don’t think vaccination requirements alone are enough to protect them from a surge in Omicron.

Meleki Wamulume, a group fitness trainer at F45 Training in Philadelphia, told VigorTip he started wearing a mask again during workouts because he didn’t feel safe.

“Others can come in with a vaccine card, maybe they’re not doing their part, and I could be a victim,” Wamulume said. “I got the chance [COVID-19] Because I’m always in that studio, I’m taller, and I see a lot of people coming in and out. ”

In Philadelphia, gyms and recreational facilities must require staff and customers to show proof of vaccinations, or require all Staff and customers wear masks indoors. Some group fitness businesses, such as F45 Training, strictly require everyone to be vaccinated instead of wearing masks.

Gyms may increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as studies show that strenuous exercise may generate more droplets and aerosol particles and potentially spread the virus. A study suggests that masks should be required because it is difficult to maintain a safe distance in confined spaces.

The Definitive Guide to Masks

Recommended Gym Safety Protocols

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the spread of COVID-19 in fitness facilities may be caused by the absence of masks, prolonged close contact and poor ventilation.

In a CDC investigation, a coach who yelled during a one-hour stationary bike class may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 despite two bikes being six feet apart.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19, gyms should mandate mask use and social distancing, and limit class sizes, the researchers said. Taking classes outdoors or virtually can further reduce the risk of transmission.

As of June 2021, CDC guidelines recommend that fitness facilities use a “hierarchy of controls.” That means maximizing fresh air, spacing equipment, installing physical barriers, making foot traffic one-way, and using contactless payment methods.

The guidance also recommends prioritizing administrative controls, such as requiring employees to attend health and safety training, implementing frequent cleaning and disinfection, and asking employees to stay home if they feel unwell.

What are the symptoms of Omicron?

Masking During Exercise: Is It Right For Everyone?

Tanya Khan, MD, a Texas ophthalmologist and plastic surgeon and member of Orangetheory Fitness, has been wearing a mask to class and frequently wipes down her equipment since the studio reopened.

“I’m used to wearing a professional mask for hours at a time during surgery, and [I’m] As far as breathing is concerned, it’s really unaffected,” Khan told VigorTip. “We’re jeopardizing the visions, livelihoods and lives of our people, yet we’re able to do the most precise tasks with masks on. ”

While masking can reduce the spread of COVID-19, it may not always be the right choice.

The CDC recommends against wearing a mask during exercise if it creates new risks that outweigh the benefits. Masks should not be worn if they interfere with a person’s normal vision or cause heat-related illness. There may be additional risks for people who have difficulty breathing or are unable to remove the mask on their own.

A study found that wearing an N95 mask during strenuous exercise increases a person’s carbon dioxide levels, which can lead to symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. Danny Epstein, MD, the study’s lead author, told VigorTip in an email that while the finding is important for the study, actually wearing an N95 mask during exercise doesn’t seem to make a difference. Negatively affect someone’s health.

“The effect of the mask [breathing] It’s only mild, so wearing a mask during physical activity is safe and doable, albeit uncomfortable,” Epstein said.

He added that he would recommend that immunocompromised or unvaccinated people consider wearing an N95 mask, or at least a surgical mask, when exercising indoors.

Is Omicron really gentler?

Choose the mask that suits you

Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, air quality engineer and founder of Patient Knowhow, supports the wearing of N95 masks in the gym, as long as they are breathable.

One way to tell if a mask is breathable is if it has a low “pressure drop,” he said. Not all companies release this information, but they should be included in their initial report to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is required for companies to achieve N95 certification.

Srikrishna added that it is important to acknowledge different preferences and thresholds for the types of masks people can tolerate. For those unable to use an N95, he recommends finding a suitable mask. For example, KF94 masks appear to be more reliable and consistent than KN95 in terms of regulations and consistency, he said.

“You need to find the right fit, like shoes,” Srikrishna added.

How to tell if your mask is real or fake

People who can’t stand masks during exercise or who don’t feel they provide adequate protection might consider bringing a portable air filter to a workout class or opt for an outdoor workout, he said.

For Wamulume, the challenges of masking vary by exercise type. For example, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) full-body workouts that involve a lot of up and down movement can make it difficult to breathe through a mask, he said. But strength training is easier.

He recommends using moisture-wicking masks that are less hygroscopic than surgical masks, which can get wet and even start to fall off if you sweat too much. It’s also important to wash masks after a workout to maintain hygiene, he said.

go at your own pace

Putting the mask back on her fitness routine made some adjustments to Khan. At first, she struggled to breathe while wearing the mask while running on the treadmill.

“I had to learn to listen to my body more,” Khan added. “If that means I can’t run at the same pace or run continuously in half-hour classes, that’s fine too.”

Khan said she can still have a successful workout while wearing a mask and has learned how to balance her exercise levels in “the medium of joy.”

“If you can wear a mask during intense classes where sometimes your heart rate is maxed out, then of course you can wear a mask when you’re out and about,” she said.

what does this mean to you

Depending on where you live and the gym or gym you attend, you may or may not need to wear a mask while exercising. However, even if there is no requirement to wear a mask, wearing a mask during group sports can provide additional protection against COVID-19.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may have updated information as you read this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.