After a myriad of pivots and adjustments these past few months, we now find ourselves integrating mask-wearing as a way of life.
Whether you’re embracing this reality with open arms, approaching it as a community responsibility, or somewhat begrudgingly agreeing to follow the rules, we all must navigate how to best assimilate to this new aspect of daily living that is here to stay for a while.
Hyatt Training is committed to staying informed
Among differing opinions and ever-growing science, Hyatt Training will stay committed to maintaining the safest possible environment for our community. For everyone’s safety, trainers and staff are required to wear masks. Per indoor mask guidelines from the state–and to support the comfort of our community at large–we require members to wear masks.
One exception is during intense cardio exercise or periods of significantly increased respiration (or as protected by the excluded disability guidelines). For those instances, we seek to provide increased airflow and circulation, or will have clients perform those parts of a session outdoors or near a window.
We are also committed to staying up-to-date on evolving, science-based recommendations and state-mandated requirements. This post will be updated with any significant changes to mask-wearing procedures, as they pertain to the Hyatt Training community.
What we know and what we’re learning
A number of weeks into studio reopening, trainers are finding styles of masks that work best for them based on safety, comfort, and function. As you do the same, we want to share information and resources to help you navigate those decisions. We will continue to share what we know–and update you with what we’re learning–as we support you each step of the way in your health journey.
Just how effective are masks?
Faced with this million-dollar question, science is responding at a rapid rate with new studies, anecdotes, and theories circulating on an almost daily basis. With a tidal wave of information and mis-information available, we’re doing our best to consult trusted sources to find answers among the chaos.
There is growing evidence to support that masks are critical to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Researchers outline two main reasons to wear masks: to protect the wearer (there is some evidence supporting this), and to protect others from catching an infection from the wearer (there is even stronger evidence to support this). Coughing and sneezing can spread the virus, but so can simply talking. This is of particular importance for those who may be asymptomatic carriers or infected but not yet showing symptoms (1).
There is also evidence showing masks won’t provide full or foolproof protection, and that conclusive science surrounding mask-wearing will take more time to develop. But according to Virginia Tech researcher Linsey Marr, who studies the airborne transmission of viruses, there is already enough evidence to show that mask-wearing, combined with additional measures like social distancing, really does help (5).
Ultimately, the protection a mask provides depends a lot on the type of mask and if it’s worn properly (1). Shop around to find a comfortable mask that works for you. The best mask is the one you will actually wear.
For some interesting evidence that masks help slow the transmission of COVID-19, check out this post from the CDC. The article features a story about two employees at a hair salon with confirmed cases of coronavirus, that resulted in no documented transmission among more than 100 clients who came in contact with the infected stylists. The lack of spreading was attributed to the required use of masks by employees and all visiting clients (9).
General mask dos and don’ts
- Do wash your hands before handling and putting on a mask (3).
- Don’t touch the fabric part of a mask, which is where collected germs are caught. Use the ear loops or ties to handle a used mask (3).
- Do make sure your mask covers both your mouth and nose (1).
- Don’t wear masks with a filtered valve in them, which protect only the wearer, but can release the wearers infection to others through the valve (2).
- Do make sure your mask fits as snugly to the face as possible (3).
- Don’t touch or readjust the mask once it’s on, as this can introduce germs to your face, greatly increasing your risk of getting sick (3). If you must touch the mask, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after (4).
- Do wear pleated masks with the folded sides pointing down (3).
- Do make sure you can breathe well while wearing a mask (4).
- Don’t stop hand washing and social distancing even with the addition of wearing a mask. Masks can make us feel safer, but letting our guard down in other safety measures can put us at an increased risk (3).
- Do replace your masks when the fabric starts wearing or it stops fitting properly (5).
- Don’t wear the same mask every day. Rotate masks over several days, which gives any viruses time to degrade and die. Routinely wash fabric masks (3).
- Do consider the tightness of the weave when selecting a fabric mask. Hold the mask up to light, the less light that gets through, the better (6).
Things to consider when selecting masks for exercise
Evidence supports that wearing a mask while exercising reduces the risk of the wearer infecting someone else nearby. Heavy respiration has been shown to release a higher amount of potentially infectious droplets, making exercise a particularly important situation in which to wear a mask. Concerns about wearing masks while exercising are shared by many, not just the potential discomfort one might feel, but the potential detrimental effects on respiration and heart rate (7).
Exercise scientists are finding ways to examine the effects of covering your face during exercise. Though they have shown wearing a mask during exercise can increase your heart rate and bring on fatigue sooner, there is evidence to suggest it’s a safe practice for most people (8).
The most important rule of thumb is to listen to your body. If you’re feeling dizzy or excessively short of breath, stop and rest. If you don’t feel better soon after, remove your mask and get some fresh air.
Finding a mask that is comfortable and fits well is the most important thing when it comes to your ability to wear it during exercise. Many masks are made from performance materials that allow greater breathability and moisture wicking. There are also neck gaiters, called buffs (Jeremy’s personal favorite), that can be pulled up over the nose and mouth while remaining open at the bottom, increasing airflow. Many popular athletic companies have started to sell exercise-specific masks. It’s worth shopping around to try different styles to find what works best for you.
Though popular for everyday use, cotton masks are not ideal for exercising because they hold moisture, making them increasingly wetter with use. This can actually make them less effective barriers. If you do wear a cotton mask during exercise, it’s best to change to a fresh one after 30 minutes of exercise.
Caring for your masks
If you have fabric masks, they should be washed regularly. If you have to wear a fabric mask more than once without washing, wait several days before using it to give viruses time to die. Wash fabric masks in a machine or in the sink using regular soap or detergent. Masks can be placed in the dryer, or air dried, depending on the style and durability. Avoid using bleach on fabric masks, which can damage the fabric over time.
If using surgical or medical masks, throw them away after one use when possible. If reusing surgical masks, wait at least 24 hours between wears to allow time for any viruses to die.