The Best Breathable Face Masks For Running And Exercising

Danielle Gonzalez
·4 mins read

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<a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/outdoor-exercise-coronavirus-safely_l_5ea89f6dc5b6e7b159f8cf38" data-ylk="slk:Safely running outside during the coronavirus" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Safely running outside during the coronavirus</a> means looking out for your own health and the health of those around you. (Photo: LanaStock via Getty Images)
Safely running outside during the coronavirus means looking out for your own health and the health of those around you. (Photo: LanaStock via Getty Images)

With most of us are spending more time at home — and indoors — than anywhere else during the coronavirus pandemic, outdoor time and exercise has become a lifeline for many of us.

There’s good reason for it. Studies have outlined the many mental health benefits of exercise, including reduced stress and an improved mood. Spending time outdoors and in nature has also been associated with decreasing mental fatigue and improving symptoms of depression and anxiety.

With outside time more precious than ever before, seasoned sprinters and power walkers alike are turning to the streets and sidewalks for some respite from at-home workout programs like Obé and P.volve or indoor exercise equipment like Peloton.

But to safely run outside right now means looking out for your own health and the health of those around you. Finding a breathable face mask for running and exercising outdoors is its own hurdle.

That’s why we turned to the experts to find out which athletic and sports face masks they recommend for running and summer workouts, including finding out whether moisture-wicking face masks are even effective.

Here’s what they had to say.

Do you need to wear face masks while running?

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that everyone should be wearing a non-medical face mask or face covering when going outside. We now know that wearing a face mask is perhaps the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and that the more people wearing them, the better.

But if you’ve tried running or working out with a face mask on, you probably had a hard time breathing and broke more of a sweat than you bargained for.

Despite its inconveniences, wearing a face cover while running does more to protect those around you to protect yourself, according to Dr. Daniel Devine of Devine Concierge Medicine.

The TL;DR: Yes, you should try to wear a mask while running if you’ll be in crowded areas near other people. It’s mostly to protect those around you.

What face mask material is best for running and exercising?

The material and fit of your sports face mask is important to consider because the best face mask materials can limit the spread of large and small virus particles.

HuffPost previously reported on the best face mask materials and found that, in general, natural materials are better at filtering out particles than synthetic materials.

Any breathable face covering, simple bandana included, is better than no face covering when running in crowded areas. Dr. Daniel Devine of Devine Concierge Medicine

In the end, any face covering is better than no covering at all, according to Devine.

“I recommend a mask with a tight weave of fibers versus a face covering made of loosely woven fibers like many bandanas,” he said. “[However], any breathable face covering, simple bandana included, is better than no face covering when running in crowded areas.”

Devine advises looking for face masks that are moisture-resistant, because face masks tend to lose their structural integrity and can distort the seal around the face when they get damp. Choosing a face mask with a nose wire you can shape or built-in nasal support (like these on Etsy or this one from Amazon) can help maintain that seal. Neck gaiters and bandanas are acceptable alternatives — as long as you are able to achieve an effective seal around the face.

What about moisture-wicking face masks for running and exercising?

A new study about the best coronavirus face mask materials found that tightly knit fabrics like denim, canvas and bed sheets are best for blocking air particles — but they’re probably not the most breathable face mask materials for when you’re working up a sweat.

Instead, lightweight and moisture-wicking face mask materials like polyester and Spandex are ideal for sports and athletic face masks, according to Roberto Mandje, the head coach of the New York Road Runners and former Olympic athlete.

“The mask should contain less cotton or linen-like materials, as these don’t breath as well, causing the mask to become more sweat-soaked as you go deeper into your run or workout,” Mandje said.

A breathable mask is one that generally has lightweight and stretchy fabric, similar to materials use in athletic wear.

Mandie also pointed out that “you want the mask to be reusable and washing machine-friendly.”

On the hunt for the best breathable face masks for running and workouts? Take a look below:

Under Armour Sports Mask

This athletic face mask is made with high-performance materials designed to be worn during sports and workouts. <a href="https://fave.co/30tlyeN" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $30 at Under Armour" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $30 at Under Armour</a>.
This athletic face mask is made with high-performance materials designed to be worn during sports and workouts. Find it for $30 at Under Armour.

Reebok Face Cover

This athletic face mask is made with recycled polyester and elastane for a comfortable fit. <a href="https://fave.co/3icLMrV" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $30 at Reebok" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $30 at Reebok</a>.<a href="https://fave.co/3icLMrV" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:" class="link rapid-noclick-resp"><br></a>
This athletic face mask is made with recycled polyester and elastane for a comfortable fit. Find it for $30 at Reebok.

Mission Cooling Neck Gaiter

When wet, the neck gaiter will keep you cool during even the hottest's workout. <a href="https://amzn.to/39WxB7y" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $20 on Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $20 on Amazon</a>.
When wet, the neck gaiter will keep you cool during even the hottest's workout. Find it for $20 on Amazon.

Shock Doctor White Play Safe Face Mask

This athletic face mask has a lightweight design that wraps around the back of your head to it won't slip during burpees, jumps or long runs. It's also easier on the ears. Plus, it features an easy-access flap for staying hydrated,. <a href="https://fave.co/3fv5Kwy" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $20 at Shock Doctor" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $20 at Shock Doctor</a>.
This athletic face mask has a lightweight design that wraps around the back of your head to it won't slip during burpees, jumps or long runs. It's also easier on the ears. Plus, it features an easy-access flap for staying hydrated,. Find it for $20 at Shock Doctor.

Champion Cotton Wicking Face Mask

This athletic face mask is made with cotton and moisture-wicking cooling fabrics. <a href="https://fave.co/3k8euwd" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $10 at Champion." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $10 at Champion.</a>
This athletic face mask is made with cotton and moisture-wicking cooling fabrics. Find it for $10 at Champion.

Page One Multifunctional Face Mask Gaiter

This workout neck gaiter is made with thin, lightweight material and can be tightened to snugly fit your face. <a href="https://amzn.to/33tcB7s" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $13 on Amazon." class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $13 on Amazon.</a>
This workout neck gaiter is made with thin, lightweight material and can be tightened to snugly fit your face. Find it for $13 on Amazon.

Athleta "Made To Move" Mask (three pack)

These athletic face masks are made with two layers of polyester, spandex and mesh for a lightweight and breathable design for sweaty workouts. <a href="https://fave.co/2Prb89c" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $25 at Athleta" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $25 at Athleta</a>.
These athletic face masks are made with two layers of polyester, spandex and mesh for a lightweight and breathable design for sweaty workouts. Find it for $25 at Athleta.

Koral Shiny Netz Face Mask

This athletic face mask is made with antimicrobial performance fabric and stretchy Lycra for a secure fit. <a href="https://fave.co/3i9weoZ" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $20 at Koral" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $20 at Koral</a>.
This athletic face mask is made with antimicrobial performance fabric and stretchy Lycra for a secure fit. Find it for $20 at Koral.

Onzie Mindful Mask

This athletic face mask is made with upcycled activewear materials, including Spandex, for a stretchy and breathable fit. <a href="https://fave.co/30swmdj" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $24 at Onzie" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $24 at Onzie</a>.
This athletic face mask is made with upcycled activewear materials, including Spandex, for a stretchy and breathable fit. Find it for $24 at Onzie.

Keen Together Mask

This breathable face mask is made with two layers of BCI-certified (Better Cotton Initiative) canvas and has adjustable ear slides. Keep in mind that it's not made of sweat-resistant materials, though. <a href="https://fave.co/30t2pd9" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Find it for $15 at Keen" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Find it for $15 at Keen</a>.
This breathable face mask is made with two layers of BCI-certified (Better Cotton Initiative) canvas and has adjustable ear slides. Keep in mind that it's not made of sweat-resistant materials, though. Find it for $15 at Keen.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.