You’ve seen the extremes. There’s the overexcited enthusiast who buys entire coordinating Spandex ensembles. And then there’s the down-and-dirty athlete who strictly seems to wear cut-up, unwashed concert T-shirts from the ’70s. So, what should you wear for exercising? Shoot for something in between. Don’t overspend on gimmicks and labels or default to worn-out gear. You should be choosing clothes that can improve your workout.
Wanting to be comfortable doesn’t make you a wuss. If you’re too cold or too warm, you won’t want to exercise for long. If your clothes get heavy with sweat, you’ll spend more time trying to towel yourself off than stretching. Trade your go-to cotton clothes for fabrics with “wicking” abilities. They don’t just absorb the sweat. They’ll lift the moisture off your skin so it can evaporate. When you’re shopping, you’ll see products made of polyester or nylon that boast these “wicking” properties. You can also keep cool with fabrics that are lightweight and feature looser weaves that breathe. Mesh panels and air vents can help too.
The Right Kind of Socks
Do you need a different pair of socks for every sport and activity? The short answer is no. But don’t ignore their designs. Some socks have cushioned fabric in different spots for activities like running and soccer. Again, you’ll find that wicking materials can help you avoid sweat pooling in your gym shoes. It’s not just a comfort issue; too much moisture can lead to blisters and Athlete’s Foot. Think about whether you need knee-high socks, which can help protect you from abrasion and incorporate compression technology. The added pressure of compression can increase your circulation for better performance and even speed up your post-workout muscle recovery.
Gear That Fits
Choosing clothes that can improve your workout includes finding pieces that fit. Does that mean tight clothes, then, or loose-fitting clothes? That depends on the activity you’re doing and your comfort level.
No matter what sport you love, you need the ability to move through full ranges of motion. If your clothes are too tight to move well, you’ll compromise your workout. Yoga, for instance, calls for looser clothes that allow you to maintain the correct form. But if you’re on a bicycle and wearing pants that are too loose, the fabric will get caught in the spokes.
Proponents of snug gear say that the support and compression can provide stability and even ward off muscle fatigue. A HIIT session, then, would benefit from an all-over tighter fit that can wick away sweat.
In the end, you’ll probably gravitate toward that happy medium. If you feel good and your clothes keep you moving, you’ll know you’re wearing the right stuff.