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After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently shared findings of high Covid-19 transmission rates at gyms last summer — notably recommending all gym patrons and staff "wear a mask” — we reached out to health experts about their go-to exercise face masks. According to medical doctors we've consulted, as well as the CDC, it’s imperative to wear a face mask while working out to help protect yourself and others from the coronavirus. The CDC also advised that gym-goers should exercise in well-ventilated spaces and practice social distancing. When shopping for an exercise face mask, the trainers and doctors we consulted suggested masks made from moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester and nylon to help prevent the face masks from becoming drenched in sweat, which impact their efficacy.
While not all states have mask mandates, it is sometimes up to individual gyms whether patrons are required to wear a face mask in order to enter their facilities. For example, face masks are recommended but not required at Equinox gyms in Texas. In Virginia, the only time Equinox members are allowed to remove their face masks is when they are exercising.
Best exercise face masks 2021, according to experts
Medical doctors and personal trainers rely on these eight exercise face masks when exercising, picks ranging from affordable finds to higher-end silk face masks.
Under Armour's face mask is the most popular expert-recommended model on our list. Trainer Anthony Crouchelli called it the “best performance-based mask” he used because it has “a great base that molds to your face structure so you never have to worry about constantly adjusting it.” Since these masks feature a water-resistant outer layer and are antimicrobial, physician Dheeraj Taranath, DO, told us they are helpful for those who sweat a lot and “prevent the masks from getting germy quickly." Dani Coleman, a senior trainer at boutique fitness studio P.volve, added her Sportsmask helps her feel "fresh" while exercising. She also appreciates the built-in UPF 50+ protection for outdoor workouts. They are available in four colors and five sizes, ranging from XS/S to XL/XXL. These 3-ply face masks are equipped with adjustable nose bridges, too.
Equinox personal trainer Andrew Schillaci dons these disposable face masks on days he anticipates getting "extra sweaty" while working out. Simply put, these masks “get the job done" for Schillaci, who coaches clients both virtually and in-person. teaches virtual Zoom exercise classes. YHDoll's disposable 3-ply masks earned a 4.6-star average rating from more than 860 Amazon reviews. These masks are available in several colors like Black, Blue and Purple. If you prefer a mix of colors, then consider the Multicolor set comprised of Pink, Navy, Black, Grey and Blue masks.
Podiatrist Ashley Lee, DPM, rotates between a few face masks when working out, including "good, breathable" options from Athleta and Under Armour. However, she "loves" wearing SooQoo's disposable face masks because "they are the most breathable" masks she has come across. Lee, a double-board certified podiatrist at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, likes to rock these masks while doing strength training exercises and light-to-moderate yoga. These Black 3-ply disposable face masks are available in packs of 100 and boast a 4.7-star average rating from more than 11,000 Amazon reviews.
Chicago-based orthopedic surgeon Richard Berger, MD, likes exercising with these "smooth, breathable and flexible" Lululemon masks. Personal trainer Dale Santiago is also a fan and will whip out his Lululemon masks when strength-training. They feature two adjustable straps and are designed with the brand's Ultralu material, which is designed to be sweat-wicking and offers a 4-way stretch. Each pack comes with three neutral-toned face masks, like Dusty Bronze, Soft Sand and Desert Sand. If you prefer deeper tones, opt for the set featuring Dark Olive, Heritage 365 Camo and Asphalt Grey.
Dheeraj Taranath, DO, a regional medical director of walk-in health clinic MedExpress Urgent Care, needs his face masks to be made from "lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking" materials. These Black, reusable 2-ply Reebok face masks come in packs of three. They are made from more than 90-percent recycled polyester and have stretchy earloops.
With warmer weather just around the corner, you might be looking for "breathable and lightweight" face masks to stay relatively cool while exercising. Taranath said his Hanes reusable exercise face masks fit the bill. The brand's 3-ply face masks are made from 100-percent cotton and boast moisture-wicking Cool Comfort technology. You can order the face masks in either a pack of 10 or 50.
Crouchelli wears his “stylish” and “multiuse” Infinity masks while working out and to dinners with friends. They offer UPF50+ protection and are made with chlorine-resistant materials, according to Koral. Since they are machine-safe masks, Crouchelli will toss them into the wash “if they were building up an odor” and said they will be “back to use in no time.” The CDC advises washing your cloth face masks “whenever it gets dirty or at least regularly.” Drying face masks is simple — either place them in the dryer or hand and air dry outside.
When Dogpound founding trainer Rhys Athayde exercises, he opts for “breathable” face masks with a filter pocket. Right now, he can be found donning this “very lightweight” 3-ply silk face mask from Discover Night because the fabric feels “very good” on his skin. In our guide to the best bedding for skin, Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, called silk a “lightweight, breathable and non-irritating” fabric. These face masks are available in seven colors, including Gunmetal, Blush and Champagne.