Best Face Masks for Working Out Leave a comment


As gyms slowly reopen and warmer weather approaches, it’s a great time to upgrade your exercise face mask—especially since experts predict we’ll be wearing masks until at least until 2022.

The good news? Thanks to a new wave of face masks designed specifically for exercise, staying safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19 while working out has never been easier. There are plenty of options out there, but the best face masks for working out are breathable, multilayered, and comfy. Read on to find out how to choose the mask that’s right for you.

How to choose the best face mask for working out

Unlike strolling through the grocery store, working out requires a high-performance mask that’ll stay in place and offer plenty of airflow. Here’s what to look for:

✔️ Safe breathability. Being able to take deep breaths while wearing a face mask is crucial for athletes, says Sonja R. Price Herbert, founder of Black Girl Pilates and an antiracism educator. The covering you pick should offer “enough space for oxygen” without compromising fit, she explains.

The CDC recommends choosing a face mask made of at least two layers of breathable fabric (read: not leather, vinyl, or denim) that fits snugly around your nose and mouth. Any tightly woven fabric will do the trick; Cotton is CDC-approved, and both silk and polypropylene have been shown to actively repel respiratory droplets, the main drivers of COVID-19’s spread. Athletic fabrics like spandex have also been shown to be effective, but only when layered.

Many workout masks include valves or vents, but the CDC specifically warns against them—they might filter the air coming in, but they don’t filter the air going out, putting the people around you at risk. They’re especially dangerous if you’re inside a gym or in close proximity to others so it’s best to avoid them.

✔️ Snug fit. A proper seal is essential to protecting both yourself and others; you won’t expel as many respiratory droplets and you’ll be exposed to less unfiltered air. Such a snug fit around the nose, cheeks, and chin might sound stifling, but plenty of masks offer room to breathe. In fact, a lot of people are liking masks that are more structured because they create a well of oxygen and rest off of the lips, says Natalie Hanson, a champion powerlifter and the owner and coach at Corvus Strength Co. That way, when you’re taking a deep breath before a set, you don’t feel like you’re swallowing your mask.

✔️ Smart design. When you’re working out, a mask that’s customizable can make all the difference. Those with nose wires seal the top much more effectively. Comfortable ear straps are essential, Hanson says, especially during long sets. She recommends looking for adjustable loops, which allow you to optimize your fit (and avoid any digging into your ears). Antimicrobial, water-resistant, moisture-wicking, and UV-blocking fabrics all make exercise just a little more pleasant. And after you get home, it’s much easier to just throw your mask in the washing machine (because we all have felt the horrors or maskne), so look for an option that can withstand frequent cleaning.

Ready to choose the face mask that’ll take your exercise routine to the next level? Check out the expert-picked, workout-ready face masks below.

1

Best Overall Face Mask for Exercise

Under Armour UA Sportsmask

After months of testing the UA Sportsmask for ourselves, we’re comfortable recommending this comfy, breathable mask to just about anyone. A roomy, structured interior allows for easy communication, while a water-resistant shell, tons of filtration, built-in UV protection, and cooling fabric mean that even the toughest workouts won’t compromise your mask. It’s worth the investment.

2

Best Value Exercise Face Mask

Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Masks, 5-Pack

Hanson’s favorite face masks for working out are these pleated options from Athleta, which boast a 4.5-star average from nearly 5,000 reviews. “They fit really nicely, they’re not too overbearing, and they have adjustable sizing for the ear loops,” she says. Another perk? The wide variety of colors are easy to match with any exercise outfit and don’t stand out too much, Hanson explains.

3

Best-Tested

Uniqlo AIRism Face Masks, 5-Pack

Recently named the best exercise face mask in Prevention’s 2021 Fitness Awards, Uniqlo’s AIRism coverings are breathable, moisture-wicking, and fitted. Their three-layer construction (including built-in filters) is machine-washable and dryer-friendly, and their outer fabric provides additional UV protection to protect you during sunny workouts (just note that you should definitely still wear sunscreen!).

4

Best Disposable Face Mask

Disposable Face Masks, 50-Pack

Herbert’s ideal face mask for exercise is a tried-and-true disposable covering. “I feel like it gives me enough oxygen intake to keep moving,” she explains. Most cloth face masks don’t allow her to breathe as deeply as she likes to during her workouts, but she wears these to the gym with no problems.

5

Adidas Face Covers, 3-Pack

Over 14,000 people have reviewed these machine-washable masks from Adidas, making their 4.4-star average even more impressive. One reviewer raves that her son can keep this mask on for entire soccer games, unlike the other players. The stretchy, comfortable fabric (woven with 40% recycled material) stays in place, making it ideal for outdoor cardio.

6

Keen Together Face Mask

This easily adjustable face mask is one of the top picks from our friends at Runner’s World, meaning you can trust it through neighborhood strolls and miles-long runs. “I really love that the canvas is rigid and doesn’t get sucked into my mouth when I have to breathe hard,” says one Amazon reviewer, who wears it at work a full 40 hours a week.

7

Happy Masks Pro

Happy Masks include five layers of protection, but reviewers rave that the filtration doesn’t compromise breathability. With sturdy ear straps and a moisture-wicking interior and exterior, these masks are ideal for sweaty workouts—but its real secret weapon is its beak shape, which simplifies speaking and breathing without compromising the mask’s seal. For gym-goers who need to communicate with others, that’s great news.

8

Po Campo Breathable Face Masks, 2-Pack

Runners, walkers, hikers, and bikers alike will love Po Campo’s high-visibility masks, which include reflective strips on the sides. On top of protecting you from COVID-19 transmission, the three-layer, antibacterial coverings protect you from oncoming traffic in low light. (If safety yellow isn’t your color, they come in more basic shades with the same reflective coating, too.)

9

EnerPlex Reusable Face Masks, 3-Pack

Nearly 60,000 Amazon shoppers have given these three-ply EnerPlex face coverings a full five stars—a pretty impressive feat in under a year. Reviewers rave about their fabric and snug fit: “I’m in health care and have been looking for a mask that fits and is comfortable,” one customer says. They’re “soft, comfortable and breathable. Highly recommend.”

10

Sock Fancy Reusable Cloth Face Mask

Sock Fancy’s masks are cute and comfortable. Made from three layers of washable combed cotton, they have an adjustable nose band and ear loops. “The straps don’t dig into your ears, and it has a fold to go around your chin,” one Amazon reviewer writes. “This is still my go-to recommendation.” 

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