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The Worst Exercise Mistake You're Making That Ups Your Risk of Coronavirus

Here's exactly what you shouldn't do right now while you're working up a sweat.
Woman stretching

Many people across the United States are currently experiencing their cities reopening, and with that comes the chance to return to exercising the way they did before the pandemic. While you might be ready to work up a sweat in your favorite gym or go for a long run in the park again, there is one crucial exercise mistake you could be making that actually increases your risk of contracting coronavirus.

And it has to do with the mask you're wearing.

Yes, you should still wear a mask or face covering while you're working out in a public space first and foremost. But the type of mask you're choosing to wear as you're exercising is vital in staying safe.

What is the worst type of mask to wear as you exercise?

When you're working out, you're obviously going to be sweating, and if you're exercising outdoors, you have the sun and the heat to factor in as well, now that we're in the summer months. You'll want to avoid wearing paper surgical masks when exercising.

Why is that exactly?

Well, they easily and quickly get wet when you're breathing heavily into them, which then causes the masks to lose the ability to block outgoing germs you could potentially be spreading, Dr. Christa Janse van Rensburg, a professor of exercise science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, explained to The New York Times.

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You want to be careful with cotton cloth masks as well, as they too get damp easily. Instead, you'll want to choose a cloth mask that is made from breathable, synthetic materials. You don't want to wear something that ultimately might end up constricting your breathing, either.

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It's best to be prepared with extra masks if you're going to be working out for more than 30 minutes, too, Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise said to The NY Times. Think about it—you're sweating and breathing heavily when you're exercising. No matter what type of mask you're wearing, it's going to get wet, so it should be replaced during your workout.

Dr. Bryant also explained that you should avoid touching the front of the used mask when you're taking it off, just in case there are any germs on that outside part of the mask that you could've come into contact with during your workout.

While it generally might be uncomfortable to exercise with a mask on, doing it the right way is how you can protect others and yourself. After all, the battle with COVID-19 is nowhere near finished.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more
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