If 2020 were to be defined by a fashion accessory, it’d have to be the face mask. COVID has impacted nearly everything in our lives, including how we work out and what we wear while we do it. If you’re hitting the Mega at InstaPhysique, you’re sporting a face mask in an effort to keep our community safe and slow the spread of COVID-19.
We know that wearing a face mask is the simplest and easiest way to protect yourself and those around you during this global pandemic, but did you know that wearing a mask while working out can actually be beneficial?
While you might be finding yourself short of breath more often than usual and suffering through some sweat – wearing a mask while working out is safe –assuming you don’t have an underlying cardiovascular or respiratory condition, in which case you should talk to your physician first.
A recent study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has found that mask wearing appears to have virtually no detrimental effects during vigorous exercise. When the researchers examined the data from this testing, they found that wearing face masks had no effect on performance (time to exhaustion) or peak power. There were also no differences found when it came to blood oxygen levels, tissue oxygenation index, perceived physical exertion, or heart rate.
The editors at ‘Ask Men’ recently caught up with a couple of their favorite health pros to get their insight on how masking up can increase your gains, amp up fat loss, and more.
We’re focusing on the positives this year, and thought we’d share some with you …
1. Burn More Fat
While face masks may bother some because they feel restricting, it is also what makes them beneficial because they force you to increase your workout intensity. Working out with a mask inherently increases the intensity of your workout because your heart rate increases in response to a demand for more oxygen to create ATP or energy. Working out harder in this case creates the residual effect that sees an increase in calories burned, helping you shed weight. Think of it like doing a really intense cardio session. The greater the effort, the greater the reward.
2. Improve Your Breathing Techniques
Maintaining proper breathing patterns is one of the key ways to improve your endurance when exercising. However, it turns out, many of us are not actually breathing correctly when we work out, and wearing a mask could help correct that. Often, our bodies are on autopilot while breathing – we don’t think about it. Donning a mask while training makes us hyper-aware of our breathing and breathing technique.
People often lift their shoulders and expand their rib cages when they should be expanding the diaphragm to allow fresh air into the belly (i.e. watch a baby breathe, that’s the ideal form). This incorrect, yet common, breathing pattern can cause extra stress on the helper muscles of the upper body and can lead to posture issues. Wearing your mask will allow you to pay more attention to your breathing and take time to ensure you are doing it correctly.
3. Train Like An Athlete
Masks are a requirement for safety these days but they have been used and studied for athletic performance for years. Athletes have used masks to simulate training at altitudes, where there is less oxygen, because it makes the eventual training without a mask easier, thus raising performance without a mask. What does this mean for you? Banging out a workout with a mask on will make you more likely to see increases in strength, speed, and endurance when you’re not wearing a mask in the future and push you to higher levels when you do. Why did you think Olympic athletes train in Colorado?
4. Recover Quicker
Training with a mask essentially forces you to raise your performance level, which is exactly what you want from a workout. Still, this will also come with the inevitable muscle burn that follows an intense exercise sesh. The good news? Wearing a mask will also help you recover from that burn quicker than if you trained without a mask. By increasing the lactate threshold due to wearing the mask, your body will have the ability to get over the burn more rapidly. This happens because of an increase in red blood cell production when you train with a mask or at an elevation.
As always, you should listen to your body when you exercise with a face mask on. If you feel overheated or lightheaded, take a moment to recover.
Now, who’s ready to workout in a mask?!