By Troy Moore
Although the importance of wearing masks is at an all-time high, many still raise an eyebrow at the thought of exercising while wearing one.
In many preliminary studies, wearing a mask while exercising has not yielded negative side effects. However, we cannot deny that you become more winded while exercising in a mask than without one. This is due to decreased airflow.
At the FIU Wellness and Recreation Center (WRC), all patrons are required to remain masked and social distanced during physical activity to promote maximum health and safety.
Here are a few methods I recommend utilizing to help you become acclimated to the increased physiological demands of wearing a mask during exercise.
Work your way up.
If you’re just getting back into your pre-shutdown fitness routine and are not accustomed to exercising with a mask, I recommend starting slow and working your way up.
For instance, if hitting the Stairmaster on your lunch break for 30 minutes unmasked was previously a breeze, you may want to start with just 10 minutes at a time wearing your mask. When you feel comfortable enough, progress to 20 minutes, then up to 30 minutes.
Listen to your body.
Whether you’re an experienced exerciser or just starting out again, it is completely normal for it to take time to get used to the feeling of breathing through a mask during your workout.
Any feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness should be met with a pause in your workout to allow symptoms to subside.
Refrain from feeling embarrassed or insecure for having to stop and take a break. This is perfectly normal when beginning when wearing a mask to exercise, and you’ll start to feel less strenuous as your fitness level increases.
Explore your options.
If working out while wearing a mask feels a little too strenuous at first, you can always begin in the comfort of your home. Then, when you feel more comfortable with your level of fitness, you can resume at WRC.
For those opting for home workouts, WRC offers a variety of virtual group fitness classes to help you get moving. These classes are free to all students and faculty/staff WRC members.
One of the virtual group fitness classes I recommend trying is HIIT and Tone. It’s a great workout that can be modified for your specific fitness level, and it’s offered virtually three times per week.
Another option for anyone who feels they need more personalized fitness attention to help acclimate them to the demands of masked exercise is personal training.
WRC personal training service is provided both virtually and in-person (masked and socially distanced) and is a wonderful means to efficiently and effectively improve your overall fitness level.
Troy Moore is a certified exercise physiologist and a student in the Kinesiology and Exercise Science program at FIU. He currently works as the graduate assistant of fitness at the Wellness and Recreation Center.