The World Health Organization (WHO) recently advised that wearing a mask during exercise is not necessary. They shared a Facebook post with the cartoon below which has caused some confusion.
It’s important to note that simply wearing a mask is not enough. Social distancing and regular handwashing are the two most important things to do. A face mask can be helpful, though, which is why the WHO advice might be a bit confusing.
Also important is to note that your country might have its own rules and regulations about the use of face masks when running or exercising.
What we do know is that it has been shown that your trail of aerosol droplets is likely to be far larger while you are running or cycling than if you were standing still or walking.
But if you have been wearing a face mask when running or exercising, you will know that it is not comfortable.
Which face masks are best for running?
Dharushana Muthulingam, MD, MS, an infectious disease physician and public health researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, told Vogue that cloth face masks are good, but these come in a variety of options.
There are linen face masks, summer wool face masks and cotton face masks. So which of these are good for running or exercise?
One size does not fit all when deciding on the best face mask for running or exercising. However, it has been shown that a cotton face mask offers good protection. These aren't always comfortable to wear, though.
“If the mask is uncomfortable, research has shown people just touch their face even more,” Dr. Muthulingam said the interview.
Finding the right balance is key. Lighter cotton face masks will be a good solution for most people, especially in the summer months.
If you are using a cotton face mask for running or exercising, remember to wash your mask as soon as you get home.