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Wearing a face covering while running can help prevent spread of infectious diseases such as Covid-19.

  1. Do certain face coverings offer more protection?
    Medical N95 masks are the most effective masks in filtering out both small and large droplets, though are difficult to wear while exercising
    Multi-layer face coverings, which include surgical masks as well as polypropylene and cotton face coverings, are next most effective
    Some media reports have called into question the effectiveness of bandanas and neck gaiters. However, the level of protection provided by a face covering is substantially driven by the number and quality of layers of material and not whether it's in the form of a gaiter or a mask; thus a gaiter is OK and would be best if doubled or tripled up in layers to increase efficacy
    All masks are highly dependent on their fit on the user’s face and the presence of facial hair; and thus, a proper (tight yet comfortable) fit is important to be effective and allow the user to wear it comfortably without having to regularly adjust it
    Face coverings need to be worn over the mouth AND nose to be effective
    Valved masks only protect the wearer, do not offer the same protection to others and thus are not recommended

  2. What if I made my own cloth mask or purchased from a DIY shop?
    Runners making their own masks should remember to make them with two to three layers of cloth for maximum protection and ensure a proper fit that covers the mouth and nose.

  3. How do I start wearing a face covering while running?
    It is advised to start slowly running with a face covering in a controlled setting. When initially running with a face covering, you may feel restricted, triggered to feel faint or hyperventilate. You can build up a tolerance for face coverings over time with training.

  4. Am I at risk of contracting a virus such as Covid-19 if I run by someone without a mask?
    Transmission wouldn’t typically occur through fleeting contact, given effective transmission depends on the viral load and length of exposure. Significant exposure is considered less than six feet for at least 10 minutes

Authored by UW Medicine Sports Medicine Physicians
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