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No, You Probably Shouldn't Run With A Face Mask On In A Heatwave

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A runner wears a face mask as she circles around Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights. Chava Sanchez/Laist
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If you've ever tried running in 90-degree weather with a piece of cotton strapped over your mouth, you're probably the kind of person who enjoys high levels of discomfort and maybe a little pain.

The rest of us, though, might not need to torture ourselves.

Today L.A. County Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, said that if you’re far away enough from other people, you do not need to cover your face, especially when it's this hot outside.

But proceed with caution. Scientists and public health officials think the six-foot distancing guideline is likely far enough away to keep breath droplets from infecting other people. But that's just an estimate. That's becuase we still don't know how easily this coronavirus can spread through the air.

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The World Health Organization says the virus doesn't seem to linger or travel more than 3 feet, but at least one medical expert says it's way too soon to know that.

One thing we do know, though, is that running in extreme heat is not good for your health. That's why Ferrer actually warned against wearing a mask if you’re exerting yourself in this week's heat wave.

"It’s harder to breathe in the heat," Ferrer said in a news conference today, "So we do recommend that if you’re going to be working out and it’s hot, you’re better off not having a face covering over your mouth and your nose."

But again, please proceed with caution and use common sense. If you’re going to come into contact with other people during part of your run, Ferrer says to carry a mask with you and put it on when and if you pass them.

That way you won't suffocate yourself or collapse on the road, when you were just trying to get a little fresh air becuase it's the only thing that's helping you stay sane in this crumbling world. It's a win-win all around.

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That being said, it's wise to check your city's particular guidelines. Although Ferrer is speaking on behalf of L.A. County, some cities, like Beverly Hills and Glendale, are requiring masks to be worn whenever you leave your home, including walks and runs.

If you absolutely must run outside during this time, wait until the temperature cools, or try working out at home if you have air conditioning. We know running can help release endorphins and ease anxiety, but if it's going to cause more harm than good given this extreme weather, it might be wise to think about holding off.

More info on mask etiquette and pandemic heatwaves:

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