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There’s good reason for it. Studies have outlined the many mental health benefits of exercise, including reduced stress and an improved mood. Spending time outdoors and in nature has also been associated with decreasing mental fatigue and improving symptoms of depression and anxiety.
With outside time more precious than ever before, seasoned sprinters and power walkers alike are turning to the streets and sidewalks for some respite from at-home workout programs like Obé and P.volve or indoor exercise equipment like Peloton.
But to safely run outside right now means looking out for your own health and the health of those around you. Finding a breathable face mask for running and exercising outdoors is its own hurdle.
That’s why we turned to the experts to find out which athletic and sports face masks they recommend for running and summer workouts, including finding out whether moisture-wicking face masks are even effective.
Here’s what they had to say.
Do you need to wear face masks while running?
In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that everyone should be wearing a non-medical face mask or face covering when going outside. We now know that wearing a face mask is perhaps the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and that the more people wearing them, the better.
But if you’ve tried running or working out with a face mask on, you probably had a hard time breathing and broke more of a sweat than you bargained for.
The TL;DR: Yes, you should try to wear a mask while running if you’ll be in crowded areas near other people. It’s mostly to protect those around you.
What face mask material is best for running and exercising?
The material and fit of your sports face mask is important to consider because the best face mask materials can limit the spread of large and small virus particles.
HuffPost previously reported on the best face mask materials and found that, in general, natural materials are better at filtering out particles than synthetic materials.
“Any breathable face covering, simple bandana included, is better than no face covering when running in crowded areas.”
– Dr. Daniel Devine of Devine Concierge Medicine
In the end, any face covering is better than no covering at all, according to Devine.
“I recommend a mask with a tight weave of fibers versus a face covering made of loosely woven fibers like many bandanas,” he said. “[However], any breathable face covering, simple bandana included, is better than no face covering when running in crowded areas.”
Devine advises looking for face masks that are moisture-resistant, because face masks tend to lose their structural integrity and can distort the seal around the face when they get damp. Choosing a face mask with a nose wire you can shape or built-in nasal support (like these on Etsy or this one from Amazon) can help maintain that seal. Neck gaiters and bandanas are acceptable alternatives — as long as you are able to achieve an effective seal around the face.
What about moisture-wicking face masks for running and exercising?
A new study about the best coronavirus face mask materials found that tightly knit fabrics like denim, canvas and bed sheets are best for blocking air particles — but they’re probably not the most breathable face mask materials for when you’re working up a sweat.
Instead, lightweight and moisture-wicking face mask materials like polyester and Spandex are ideal for sports and athletic face masks, according to Roberto Mandje, the head coach of the New York Road Runners and former Olympic athlete.
“The mask should contain less cotton or linen-like materials, as these don’t breath as well, causing the mask to become more sweat-soaked as you go deeper into your run or workout,” Mandje said.
A breathable mask is one that generally has lightweight and stretchy fabric, similar to materials use in athletic wear.
Mandie also pointed out that “you want the mask to be reusable and washing machine-friendly.”
On the hunt for the best breathable face masks for running and workouts? Take a look below:
Under Armour Sports Mask
Reebok Face Cover
Mission Cooling Neck Gaiter
Shock Doctor White Play Safe Face Mask
Champion Cotton Wicking Face Mask
Page One Multifunctional Face Mask Gaiter
Athleta “Made To Move” Mask (three pack)
Koral Shiny Netz Face Mask
Onzie Mindful Mask
Keen Together Mask