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USciences Professor Discusses Exercising While Wearing a Mask

Published on June 14, 2020

Patrick Davitt PhD, CSCS, FACSM, Director of the Health Sciences Program at USciences, spoke with The Philadelphia Inquirer about exercising outdoors while wearing a mask. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that a non-surgical face covering be worn in public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this recommendation has raised questions for those who are exercising outdoors while gyms remain closed. 

“If you’re in an area where you know you’re going to be crossing paths with a lot of other people, you 100% should be wearing a mask” Dr. Davitt advises, “But in general, try to avoid those situations.”

An avid runner himself, Dr. Davitt recommends finding less crowded places to exercise if you’d like to avoid wearing a mask. However, with or without a mask, exercisers should be aware of others and avoid crossing paths as much as possible. 

While exercising and spending time outdoors has many benefits, Dr. Davitt warns that it may take some practice to get used to exercising with a mask on. “Just understand that exercising with something that’s covering your mouth- that you’re not used to wearing- is likely to change how your workout looks, and that’s okay”. He recommends practicing some light exercising indoors with a mask on before committing to a full outdoor workout. 

Dr. Davitt emphasizes that listening to your body is key.  “The faster and harder you’re breathing, the more the mask is going to affect that” Dr. Davitt explains. “If you go too hard, that can compromise your immune system, which you don’t want right now.”

In addition to safety, comfort should also be a top priority. Ensuring that your mask is comfortable and will not need to be adjusted or cause any irritation during your workout is important “Running has an analgesic effect, so your pain sensitivity gets temporarily dulled” Dr. Davitt explains, “It’s just like avoiding a blister- if you continue, you might be limited from going outside at all the next day.”

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