A Guide to Exercising with a Mask

May 3, 2021

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Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Strategies to Enjoy Your Workout While Wearing a Mask 

It may be more than clear by now that exercising during the pandemic is not nearly the same as exercising was before the pandemic. This is probably most likely due to the masks (in addition to all of the extra protocols for health and safety). I will be the first to admit, I hate wearing a mask at the gym. It makes working out really difficult, and even feels kind of gross sometimes. For a while I was so annoyed with it, that I just stopped going to the gym. Instead I was working out at home outside. Fortunately, the weather was on my side for a while, but as the winter slowly approached, I realized that it was time to suck it up and get back into the gym. When I started going back to the gym, I decided that instead of sulking about the mask mandate (which really forced me to change my workouts), I decided to be proactive and come up with new strategies which would make wearing a mask easier.  

So if you are also struggling with the mask mandates at the gym, you are not alone. And today I have a few tips for you to make it more bearable. Although uncomfortable at first, there are definitely some ways that you can help yourself get used to the mask wearing. 

  • Focus on endurance instead of intensity: This is the most important tip. By switching your focus to endurance instead of intensity, you are able to not only build up your strength over time, you are also able to build your tolerance to training with a mask on. Start by walking. When that gets easy, switch to walking on an incline or a fast paced walk. Eventually you may even build yourself up to a jog or run. You can also follow this same model if you prefer lifting weights. The point is really to start small and build up from there.  

  • Be conscious of your mask material: As long as you are wearing some type of face covering, any face covering is going to be better than no face covering when it comes to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Try going for a material that is moisture wicking and not overly thick. Lots of sportswear companies are now selling face masks that are specifically designed to be comfortable when exercising but are also good at reducing the spread of COVID-19.  

  • Listen to your body: Remember to always listen to your body. We are in a pandemic which means that there is no reason to be pushing our body’s to the limits right now. Exercising should be something that is fun and makes us feel good. If you start to feel light-headed, nauseous, or dizzy; stop exercising immediately. Your body is trying to send you a message, listen to it.  

Working out with a mask doesn’t have to be as bad as it seems. When using good strategies and training appropriately, working out in the pandemic can still bring you a small sense of normalcy and happiness! Let us know what your favorite pandemic gym tips are at Healthy.UNH@unh.edu!  

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