Running with a face mask
In the age of COVID-19 when indoor gyms are restricted, running is an excellent go-to exercise. It can be done outdoors and is not limited by social distancing guidelines. According to the CDC, running is a great way to strengthen your bones, control your weight, improve your mood, sharpen your mental health and live longer while reducing your risk for major disease. When it comes to running, you can exercise the same way and get the same quality workout during the pandemic as you did before.
The only difference is that now you have to wear a mask to be in accordance with safety guidelines. Also according to the CDC, “Masks are a critical step to help prevent people from getting and spreading COVID-19.” However, everyday cloth masks aren’t designed for running. During exercise, they can sag or fall off, which is distracting, uncomfortable and inconvenient. It also defeats the purpose of wearing a mask. When shopping for a mask that you plan to wear when running, not just any mask will do.
How to choose a running mask
The looser the fit, the less effective the mask. You want your mask to be tight so it won’t move or slide out of place during exercise, allowing you to focus on the road ahead. A tight-fitting mask will adequately cover both your nose and mouth. It can also prevent your glasses or sunglasses from fogging, which is another potential issue with loose-fitting or cloth masks. The more comfortable the mask, the more likely you’ll keep it on for the duration of the run without touching your face or taking it off. This allows you to achieve optimal performance despite the new environment we’ve all been forced to adapt to.
N95 masks may be well-suited for stopping the spread of the virus when indoors or among crowds by protecting against pollution, allergens and bacteria, but they aren’t ideal for running because they can restrict your breath. Overall, you want to avoid masks with filters, valves or vents that can make it harder to breathe. When it comes to breathability, another factor to consider when purchasing a mask is that it’s sweat-resistant or has fast-drying technology. When your mask gets drenched in sweat, it can become uncomfortable and chafe your skin.
What are the best materials for running masks?
Masks made from certain fabrics, such as vinyl and cloth, can make it difficult to breathe when running. You want to look for masks that are light and comfortable, while also being able to endure frequent wear and tear. A good rule of thumb is to purchase masks made from the same material as your workout clothes.
Fabrics that contain elastane and spandex can stretch, making for a more comfortable fit. Nylon and polyester can resist moisture. If your main concern is COVID protection, silk masks effectively repel disease particles, and tightly woven cotton masks have been shown to be effective. There are also self-sanitizing masks that have antimicrobial properties. These masks are made from material that keep both the mask and your skin clean. They eliminate odor and minimize the growth of bacteria on the fabric.
There has been some confusion about neck gaiters and whether they’re a safe option for runners. A joint study by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that neck gaiters are just as effective as cloth masks.
Masks for running
Sunday Afternoons Adult UV Shield Cool Face Mask
This technologically advanced running mask features a UPF 50+ sun rating and has Coolcore chemical-free cooling technology, making it perfect for long runs and hot days. Comfort was not sacrificed, as the clinch mask and elastic loops help create a custom fit. The OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certified ultra-soft fabric repels moisture and makes for quick drying.
Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods and Amazon
BlackStrap Sustainable Antimicrobial Advanced Civil Face Mask
An eco-friendly, zero-waste option, this running mask is made from 100% repurposed fabrics. The dual-layer construction, antimicrobial technology and moisture-wicking properties allow for comfort, breathability and safety.
Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
This high-performance, antimicrobial, water-resistant UA material is designed for casual or competitive running. The internal polyurethane open-cell foam, UA Iso-Chill interior lining and ear loops allow for free-flowing air. This makes it difficult for the moisture and sweat to pass through.
Sold by Amazon
Shock Doctor Play Safe Sports Mask
This quick-flip hidden-face open-style mask has an alternative style and fit that reduces slipping and chafing. Dual-comfort straps reduce pressure points and irritation on your ears and head.
Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Made from a series of high-performance recycled materials called Primegreen, this mask is an environmentally conscious choice. Flexible, comfortable and easy to launder, this a great option for running and everyday use. It’s also good for those on a low budget.
A variation of your typical mask, this tube mask easily stretches a variety of ways to ensure comfort. The three-layer certified replacement filter system allows for maximum breathability during intense cardio sessions.
Sold by Road Runner Sports, Backcountry and Amazon
Outdoor Research Essential Filtered Face Mask Kit
Remain safe and feel comfortable on your runs with this filter-equipped mask. The high-filtration efficiency blocks 95% of bacteria, viruses and other particles according to ASTM test standards.
Sold by Backcountry and Amazon
Ryan Dempsey is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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