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Home / Fitness and Health / Best COVID-19 masks for indoor and outdoor workouts, per expert

Best COVID-19 masks for indoor and outdoor workouts, per expert



In the past, those who audibly puffed and puffed their way through training were just annoying. Now – as they share equipment and haunt gyms with sweat and heavy breath – they can be downright deadly, emitting tiny, potentially infectious particles that linger in the air for hours. This makes gyms a particularly high-risk environment for COVID-19 exposure. But as temperatures start to drop, indoor gyms beckon. According to a survey of over 2,000 people that OnePoll conducted on behalf of LIFEAID Beverage Co., four in ten Americans say they will return to the gym at the same or faster rate once it opens again (only for what it’s worth) 31 percent of gym members actually returned, a survey by RunRepeat of over 5,000 people found.)

No matter where you train, the advice of public health officials, microbiologists, epidemiologists, and infectious disease experts is clear: wear a damn mask. However, the type of mask you can get away with may depend on your surroundings.

Three-layer surgical masks (those disposable, rectangular blue and white masks) and cotton masks were most effective at preventing droplet spreading, according to a study published in the journal in September Advances in science– something that is exponentially more important when you’re exercising in an enclosed space (and even more important when other people are around).

The three-layer system is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). “The surface is usually made of a durable, breathable substance. the inner part is more water resistant; and the third part that comes in contact with your face is a lighter cotton or linen, ”explains Philip M. Tierno, clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University and author of First, wear a face mask.

A simple cotton mask should have at least four layers, according to the WHO, while nylon blends and 100 percent polyester masks offer two to five times the efficiency when folded in two layers compared to a single layer.

Under Armor SportMask
Under Armor SportMask Courtesy Image

Some sports companies use the same fabrics to make masks that they use to make high-tech tops and bottoms. This can affect the comfort of the mask. “A lot of masks use moisture wicking materials and have a little stretch, and that’s useful,” says Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and director of the Center for Global and Immigrant Health. “You want one that fits over your mouth and nose and fits snugly against your cheeks while being flexible enough to bend over as you move.”

You may see companies promoting masks with antimicrobial treatments, such as: UA sports mask [$30; underarmour.com]with an antimicrobial treatment of the inner layer; or the Space mask [$19; shopspacemask.com], with an antibacterial filter in the middle and an antibacterial coating on the outer layer. “There may be some advantages to this, but there aren’t any studies to show it,” says Rimoin.

SMRTFT sports mask
SMRTFT sports mask Courtesy Image

Other companies make masks from nanofibers, super-small synthetic fibers that block microscopic particles while allowing better airflow. Coronavirus particles are approximately 0.125 micrometers (1/1000 millimeter) in size. So you need to check what size particle a mask is blocking, says Tierno (keep in mind that these particles are almost always attached to something larger). The HALO Life Black Mesh Mask with HALO nanofilter technology [$34.95, halolife.io]claims, for example, to block particles as small as 0.1 micrometers; SMRTFTs sports mask [$24.95, smrtfit.com] claims to block particles from 1.7 to 2.6 microns.

Adidas face protection
Adidas face protection Courtesy Image

Certain masks even come with filters or a bag for a filter. “These small, replaceable filters remove particles from the air, but they are not necessarily effective at filtering out viruses,” says Rimoin. A workout face mask is less about the bells and whistles and more about making sure everything is covered with three layers of fabric, she adds.

Outside you could Wear a one- or two-layer mask, like the one from Adidas [$20, adidas.com] or Reebok [$20, reebok.com]. That said, “we know that breathing spits out these particles that can be suspended in mid-air,” says Tierno (recommending staying at least 10 feet away from other outdoor exercisers). “Better to play it safe,” he says when it comes to wearing a mask, and at least three layers of fabric are still recommended outdoors.

Both Tierno and Rimoin warn against neck gaiters and bandanas. In the recently published study in Advances in scienceThe neck seal tested actually split larger droplets into smaller ones, making them easier to spread. (This may not be the case with all neck gaiters. The tested one was a single layer fleece made from a blend of polyester and spandex.) “If you are in an area where no one else is around, this is likely okay. But they just don’t protect you in the same way, ”says Rimoin.

You should also avoid masks with valves and vents that make it easier to breathe out but defeat one of the primary purposes of a mask: “The point of wearing a mask is to prevent transmission, and face masks with valves and vents don’t prevent it from spreading of the coronavirus, “says Rimoin. These types of masks release clouds of particles and may be more hazardous to the wearer than if they were wearing a normal mask. This study was published in the journal in July Physics of liquids found.

Whichever mask you choose, the most important thing is to A) wear it inside and out and B) disinfect it! “Make sure you wash or sanitize a mask after each use,” says Rimoin. That can mean tossing it in the laundry, leaving it off for a day or two (since the virus doesn’t live well on fabric surfaces, Tierno says), or even steaming it in an instant pot or rice cooker (yes, seriously – 50 minutes Over 100 degrees Celsius is a legitimate disinfection method, according to a study published in the journal in July Environmental science and technological letters).


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