Wearing a yoga face mask helps reduce the risks of being infected with the Covid-19 virus. However, since it covers your face while working out, it can also affect your breathing as you perform the exercises. But does this mean that we should stop doing physical activities like working out, yoga, etc., in public? Is it not safe to wear a mask while working out?
We all know that by now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that we use a face covering whenever we leave our homes, or when we are in crowded spaces, such as pathways, parks, and in shared, indoor places, which includes gyms, to help prevent the transmission of the virus through respiration. These recommendations, which many communities and business establishments require, have become pressing when exercising. In fact, previous studies showed that our breathing rates can double or even quadruple, which sends out higher numbers of potentially infectious respiratory droplets.
And while there’s growing evidence that face masks can indeed affect our breathing in general, we’ve only known a little about whether or not face coverings can change the subjective experience and physical impacts of exercise and how they do it. We only know that a lot of people who work out and do yoga are telling us that they just do. Ultimately is up to you to decide on your own health and safety.
Is it safe to wear a yoga face mask?
Medical experts said that covering your face during exercise comes with issues of potential breathing discomfort and restriction. This requires balancing benefits versus possible adverse events. What are these benefits and adversities?
Based on the analysis of several scientists who reviewed the use of masks and exercises, face masks do alter exercise. This is according to Cedric Bryant, who is the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. He said that heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity if you’re wearing a yoga face mask.
In short, if you’re using a face mask before you run or cycle at your usual pace, then your heart rate will be more elevated. You should expect that it will be about eight to ten beats higher per minute when you wear a face mask than when you’re not wearing one. This exaggerated rise in heart rate is the most pronounced during intense efforts, such as intervals or hill repeats. Some people may also experience light headness while wearing a yoga face mask during an intense workout or while doing yoga
But here’s the good news. Such discomforts that you may experience while performing physical activities and wearing a face mask at the same time can be minimized. Medical experts have conducted an informal experiment with two experienced athletes. One of them wore a mask while running, without breathing difficulties. The other one, wearing the same type of cloth mask, felt dizzy after a few minutes of exertion. This means that we can minimize such discomforts simply by judicious mask choice and fitting.
Which yoga face mask should you use?
There are different types of face masks available to us, but it’s best to identify what these are for to better understand which yoga face mask is the best for physical activities.
These types of face masks are commonly used by healthcare workers who need a higher level of protection in their workplace. Because of the shortage of face masks, the CDC doesn’t recommend the general public to wear N95 respirators. Typically, they should only be used for patient care for aerosolizing procedures, etc.
They are tighter-fitting and are made of higher filtration material compared to regular face masks. They can filter out an estimated 95% of airborne particles that pose a threat to a person’s health, but they can also reduce oxygen intake by almost 20%.
Doing yoga means you need to be able to breathe fully. As the level of activity picks up, your respiration rate increases and your muscles will demand more oxygen. Because of this, the N95 respirators won’t be the best option
K95 face mask
Similar to N95 respirators, a K95 face mask is another type of respirator that health workers use as PPE (personal protective equipment). It’s a type of N95 where one size fits all and can be used just like an N95 respirator. However, it may have fit issues sometimes, so you need to make sure that it is snug before you use each time.
This multi-layered face mask is the regulatory standard when it comes to filtering respirators that are certified in China. Because of its ability to create an airtight seal, this face mask can fit tightly around the face to provide a 95% protection against small particles.
And just like N95 respirators, these face masks aren’t good for working out or for any physical activity like yoga.
An FDA-approved surgical mask is made of disposable materials. These face masks vary in thickness and have the ability to protect healthcare workers from contact with splashes. They’re perfect for all patient care in healthcare settings.
Unlike the K95 and the N95 surgical respirators, the aren’t well-fitted or tight. When working out, or even just doing normal movements, they’ll tend to slide down the nose.
Cloth masks are perfect for the general public because they’re the only types of face masks that can be washed. Also, it’s great for people who work out or do physical activities like yoga, running, etc., since they’re soft enough to withstand movement.
Safety tips when wearing a yoga face mask
WHO says you shouldn’t be wearing a mask when exercising, but if we want to prevent being infected from the virus, then we should do it. Wearing a yoga face mask is important if you’re exercising indoors, where air circulation is less likely to dissipate the virus.
Avoid using surgical masks during exercise since they rapidly become wet when you breathe into them, and they lose some of their ability to block outgoing germs. The same goes for cotton cloth masks. A cloth yoga face mask made from breathable, synthetic materials should help lessen moisture buildup.
You may also want to carry extra face masks with you if you’re going to work out for more than thirty minutes. Even the most breathable fabric becomes drenched at that point, hence you should replace it. Try not to touch the front of the used face mask, since any viral particles could have accumulated there. Once removed, carefully pack or dispose of it.