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Practicing with a face mask – and what not to do



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When home orders start to diminish and the coronavirus pandemic simmers (it must end at some point, right ?! ), gyms and fitness studio & # 39; s open again. This will raise a lot of questions for gym junkies, Orangetheory die-hards and all other fitness buffs. Is it safe to go to the gym? Do I still have to stay six feet from from everyone? How powerful should I wipe equipment?

Of course, you can always stick to your home training routine or continue practicing household items to ensure safety. But those who would like to return to the community aspect of fitness will certainly ask one big question: should I practice with a face mask on?

This may be necessary in some parts of the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone in public wear a mask or face covering, especially in places where it is difficult to keep a distance, such as a supermarket or pharmacy. Several countries and some parts of the US have made this practice mandatory. We don't know when those guidelines will end, and they could still be in effect when the gyms open again.

Because of the thought of practicing with a face mask on sounds, er, miserable, CNET spoke to a few experts who discuss everything you need to know about exercising while wearing a face mask.

Read more: Gymetiquette: Don't break these 10 important rules when gyms reopen after coronavirus

Is it safe to exercise with a face mask on? In general, for most people to exercise safely while wearing a face mask, Grayson Wickham, a physiotherapist and certified strength and fitness specialist at Movement Vault, tells CNET.

"Most people can do all the exercises with a face mask on," says Wickham. "You will want to monitor how you feel during exercise and look for specific symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, numbness or tingling, and shortness of breath."

Read more: Coronavirus states: good news amid the terrible reports

Shouldn't someone train with a face mask on?

Wickham says people with underlying cardiovascular or respiratory conditions should exercise caution when exercising with a face mask on. The severity of their condition will determine whether or not it is appropriate to exercise with a face mask on, Wickham says.

"Someone with an underlying respiratory condition who is on the more serious side will want to exercise indoors without a face mask," he says, to ensure safety for themselves and others.

Examples of such conditions are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and other conditions affecting the heart or lungs. If you have a cardiovascular or respiratory condition, it is a good idea to ask your doctor about training with a face mask before trying it. If you are unable to see your doctor now, try calling or schedule a telemedicine visit .

Also, people who are new to exercise or who have not exercised for a long time should take extra care if they exercise while wearing a face mask. Keep an eye on the intensity of your workout and keep it on the low to moderate side to avoid symptoms like dizziness and fainting, says Wickham.

What happens if you train with a face mask on?

Compared to normal breathing, wearing any type of protective mask reduces airflow to your lungs, Scott McAfee, physiotherapist and orthopedic specialist at MovementX, tells CNET. Less oxygen in your lungs means less oxygen in your bloodstream and working muscles, making training more difficult.

"Different masks have different levels of airflow limitation depending on the thickness of the material," says McAfee. "With less air, your body has less available oxygen to use during exercise to convert glucose [sugar] into energy."

McAfee says that everyone, even those in relatively high fitness, should expect fatigue more quickly when training with a face mask, comparing this scenario to altitude training or wearing an oxygen deficiency mask to cause better breathing fitness (this is something top athletes do).

"In a few weeks, your body will certainly adapt by becoming more efficient at metabolizing oxygen, but this will take time," says McAfee. "If you start to feel dizzy, unbalanced, or overly tired, stop. Be smart [and] don't overdo it."

Read more: Do homemade facial masks stop you from getting coronavirus? Here's what we know

  Face Mask Training

Expect to tire more quickly when wearing a mask than you would during normal exercise.


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What to expect when training with a face mask on

"Due to the increase in breathing resistance, it is normal for you to become breathless faster than normal during your workout when you are not wearing the face mask," says Wickham. "You may not be able to perform at the same level as if you don't wear the face mask," he says, adding that you can expect a drop in your training performance while wearing a face mask.

Someone with a higher fitness level may not feel the effects of a face mask as hard as someone who is just starting out with exercise, says Wickham, but even very fit people are unlikely to be able to perform at their normal level.

Notice how your body responds to your workout while wearing a face mask, especially during higher intensity exercise such as heavy lifting, sprints, plyometrics, CrossFit-like workouts high intensity interval training (HIIT) and cardio training .

If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or extremely short of breath, sit down and take a break. If symptoms don't clear up relatively quickly, take off your mask to allow yourself to breathe normally, Wickham says. If you do need to take off your mask, always follow your state's health rules and try to keep a distance of at least two meters between you and other people.

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