One of the biggest changes for exercisers during the pandemic is the introduction of face masks to our workouts. We of course feel a responsibility to do our best to keep ourselves and everyone else safe; but, let's be honest, the last thing we want during a challenging workout is to strap a wet, heavy fabric to our face. As we all face (pun intended) this struggle, rest assured, there are several ways to make it a little bit easier and more enjoyable on yourself at your next masked workout.
1. Check in on yourself - Periodically check in on yourself during your workout. Are you feeling dizzy or lightheaded? Are you getting winded or tired? If so, you may need to tone it down a bit for the rest of the session or take a short break to catch your breath. Remember, it is safe to exercise in a mask, but it never hurts to keep an eye on how you are feeling and adjust accordingly.
2. Slow Down Your Breathing - Take longer on your inhales and exhales and make them intentional. This may prevent you from getting dizzy or light headed. It might also keep your mask a little drier by preventing increased moisture!
3. Bring two masks (or more) - Bring a couple of masks to your sweat session! Emphasis on sweat -- those things can get a little drenched if you are really working it. Instead of being uncomfortable the whole time, just switch out your mask for a clean, fresh one. It will give you that second wind you need to finish strong.
4. Experiment - Play around with which mask works best for you. One person may prefer a cloth mask because it feels comfortable on their face, while another may prefer a more medical looking mask because it seems more breathable. The truth is, you can't really tell until you try it. Bring both next time you are at the gym and experiment. Pay attention to how they feel on your face and how well you’re able to breathe. There are a ton of options out there now, so you can definitely find one that works well for you.
5. Accept - Accept that if you’re working out in a mask, your workout may move a little slower and feel a little more difficult. Remember, as long as you are showing up and working towards your goals, you will make progress. Allow yourself extra breaks to breath and be kind to yourself if you find that you cannot do as much as you are used to. It's not forever, it's just for now, and it will be okay.
Remember, your body and mind will adapt to these new conditions quicker than you think, and your mask-on workouts will become easier the more you do them. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, and keep looking our for the safety of others - you're doing great.