When Should I Wear a Mask and When Should I Not?
A few weeks ago, I was driving to the office and I saw a man jogging. Not only was he jogging mid day in the hot and humid July sun, but he was also wearing a fleece mask while doing so. This made me think that people are confused as to when they should actually wear a mask. Now this is not a blog about IF we should (or should not) be wearing them, but instead to help clarify the confusion around when we need to wear them and when we do not.
With New Jersey’s state mandate, businesses are required to have people wear a face covering however, you may find yourself in circumstances when you are not sure if a mask is required. You may wonder, do we need to wear a mask when exercising, when at the beach, when in the car, when at home, when dining at an outdoor restaurant? All of these questions are valid and can be confusing to decide on your own.
The answer to these questions all vary depending on the person, particularly on their age and health status. Children under the age of 2 do not have to wear a mask. Traditionally, people who feel sick or are taking care of someone sick should be wearing a mask. The typical mask (unless it is a n95 mask) only protects others from the person’s droplets—it does not protect the person wearing the mask. It is a one-way street. This is where I have seen the most confusion when discussing this with patients and friends. Again the mask wearer is only protecting others from them. They are not protected. I heard a patient say recently, “the boardwalk was packed, hardly anyone wearing a mask so I went back to the house and got mine.” I asked her what kind of mask she wore and she said the blue surgical mask. Now, I knew she was not sick due to our screening protocols, but asked her anyway, “Did you feel sick?” She said no, and when I asked her why she did that, she explained she didn’t want to get sick with COVID because her daughter is pregnant. I politely informed her that it does not work that way and quite honestly she was shocked to find out. She thought that by wearing it, she was being protected from others.
Should I wear a mask while exercising?
This is the question that was originally raised when I saw that man jogging on my way to work. It was a hot summer day and he was not only sweating but also had the mask on. Mind you, this man was in fact jogging by himself. So, this is where the question begins to come into play. Do you need to wear a mask while you are exercising, not to mention, exercising alone? The answer to that is sometimes. If you happen to be in an area where you can attend a gym with other individuals, then yes it is advised you wear one. In contrast, if you are working out alone, you do not need a mask, especially outside. A rule to live by is if you can maintain 6 feet from all of the individuals around you, then a mask is not necessary.
Should I wear a mask outdoors?
Whether you are sitting on the beach, walking on the boardwalk, having a bite at an outdoor restaurant, or even just taking a nature walk outside; you do not necessarily need a mask. If you are able to keep a 6 feet distance between you and any other individual then the mask is not needed.
Should I wear a mask when I am driving?
I have come across far too many people driving alone with masks on. Not only is this contradicting but it can also be dangerous. If you are in the car by yourself, you have no reason to wear a mask. The job of a mask is to protect others from you. Therefore, if you are in the car by yourself there is no one there to protect. That being said, if you do have another individual in the car, by all means, wear a mask. However, if that person is of the same household as you then it is not necessary. If you choose to wear a mask while driving, regardless of the situation, it is advised that you take three deep breathes without the mask on before you get behind the wheel.
If you have the ability to do so, it is best that you avoid wearing a mask when you do not have to. This is due to the fact that when you wear a mask you are inhibiting your immune system in many ways. By wearing a mask you are denying yourself the daily bacteria that help build your immune system up. This is why it is extremely important to take your vitamins such as, vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C.
Now, while you may not have to wear a mask during these activities it all depends on the person, if a person is more comfortable wearing a mask while exercising they can do so, though it is not advised.
This is not an anti-mask article, this is simply stating facts regarding when it is required to wear a mask and when it is not required to do so. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, therefore, you may wear a mask whenever you feel to do so.