This National Gym Chain Is Requiring Everyone to Wear Masks

The list of nationwide companies mandating masks just got longer.

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From Walmart to Starbucks, many national chains have begun requiring customers to wear masks upon entry in recent weeks, and that list just got a bit longer. On Monday, July 27, national gym chain Planet Fitness announced that all members and guests must wear masks—yes, even while working out. The new policy will go into effect on August 1 at Planet Fitness' 1,450 locations that are open in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Citing the challenges of the ongoing global health crisis presented by COVID-19 pandemic, Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said in a statement: "Wellness has never been as essential to our collective community as it is today." He added, "Given our leadership position within the industry, we believe it's our responsibility to further protect our members, employees, and communities so that we can all safely focus on our health, which is more important now than ever before."

Some have argued that masks inhibit breathing, and therefore there are beliefs that exercising while wearing a mask dangerous. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addressed this issue, recommending that anyone working out around other people should wear a mask to help minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. In a July 1 update, however, the CDC amended their mask guidelines to read:

People who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a cloth face covering if it causes difficulty breathing. If unable to wear a cloth face covering, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.

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According to an article in British Journal of Sports Medicine, covering your face during exercise "comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort" and requires "balancing benefits versus possible adverse events." In the report, Christa Janse van Rensburg, a professor of exercise science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and graduate student Jessica Hamuy Blanco note:

This is unlikely to be an issue for most people but could present a problem at higher intensities of exercise, particularly for those with underlying health concerns. It would be prudent for people with existing heart or lung conditions to exercise at a lower intensity than usual while wearing a mask, to prevent any adverse events.

In a recent Facebook Live interview, Anthony Fauci, MD, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said: "I wear a mask when I'm outside all the time, particularly making sure that I don't remove it when I'm close to people. And, you know, it doesn't bother me. I even run with a mask on."

He also said: "There has not been any indication that putting a mask on and wearing a mask for a considerable period of time has any deleterious effects on oxygen exchange or anything like that. Not at all."

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So, if you are going to wear a mask while exercising, what sort of mask should you wear? In an interview with The New York Times, Rensburg suggested people avoid paper, surgical, and cotton masks while working out, as they can quickly collect moisture from sweat, which makes them less effective. She advised opting for masks that "have two layers of fabric or less …to avoid facial overheating and any bunching of the cloth that might constrict breathing." And if you want to learn the latest on mask news, check out You Need to Stop Believing This Common Mask Myth, Study Says.

 

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