Active wear have become wardrobe staples for fitness enthusiasts and the fashion-conscious.
The myriad of styles and designs leave us spoilt for choice, and although some may argue that an old pair of shorts and ratty t-shirt may do the job, this may not be the best attire for the activity of your choice.
And here are 8 reasons why:
Comfort and improved range of motion
Making sure your active wear fits you well will prevent skin irritation or painful chafing and allow freedom of movement. Loose clothing may catch on equipment, overly tight ones may restrict your range of motion and the last thing you want when doing a Downward Dog is having your top ride up your back. Always try workout clothes on before you purchase them to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. Expandable fabric such as spandex or Lycra are perfect for workouts that require a wide range of motion and stretching, be it lunges, yoga or swimming. So, if they fit you like a glove, allows you unrestricted movement, makes you feel confident and not self-conscious, then bravo, you’ve got your workout gear ready!
You’ll be thankful you left your cotton tee at home as cotton absorbs sweat easily and retains moisture leaving you feeling wet, heavy and clingy. Look out for light, breathable, and sweat-wicking fabrics like spandex and nylon or tech-driven material like Dri-FIT or Coolmax. Wicking is the ability to divert sweat from your skin and evaporate through the fabric’s surface. These will leave you feeling fresh, dry and comfortable during and post-workout. Not only that, these help you stay cooler in the heat of summer and warmer during winter.
Adequate and firm support
The ladies will get this one – a well-fitted sports bra with great support is absolutely essential if you’re planning on doing high-impact exercises. You’d be better off avoiding humiliating chest bounces and back pain, and stretching the supporting structures of your twinsies. Try a variety of brands and styles to find the perfect sports bra for you. Check out these tips on buying a sports bra with the best fit.
Visibility and safety
This is especially important if you routinely work out before sunrise, at night, or on poorly lit routes. By wearing bright, reflective gear, you will be considerate towards the safety of other road users and yourself. So, the next time you run or cycle at dawn or twilight, remember that it is critical to be seen!
Improves blood circulation and post-recovery
While you’re revving up your calorie burn, your blood pumps oxygen to your muscles, lactic acid builds up as a by-product. This often causes pain, fatigue and cramping. Thanks to fabric engineers, compression clothing stimulates blood flow and reduces lactic-acid build up. This range includes compression socks, calf sleeves, shorts, full tights, and shirts. For the uninitiated, compression clothing, a branch out from women’s fitness fashion, are skin-tight apparel featuring in-built panels and strategically-positioned surface pressure. There are two types of compression used; ‘graduated compression’, which are tighter in your extremities to help increase the blood flow back to your core when you exercise and ‘compartmental compression’ which are tighter in particular areas, usually better suited for specific sports.
Turns out that these garments do more than hug you in the right places. Research findings by Born et al. (2013) have reported that compression clothing may assist in improving performance and muscle recovery. This apparel also provides extra support to muscles and joints and is said to reduce micro damage to the muscles and may help prevent or alleviate injuries associated with sudden, uncontrolled movements that may occur during exercise.
The importance of activity-appropriate gear cannot be overemphasised. For instance, padded cycling shorts can make long bike rides more comfortable and using gloves in the gym or while rock-climbing protects your palms from developing calluses. Your feet deserve equal attention as ill-fitting shoes may cause blisters, cramps, sprains, or slipping. Choose shoes that are the right fit with a comfortable arch, provides good traction and are activity-appropriate. A good pair cushions your feet from high-impact exercises or heavy-landings. Flat shoes are perfect for deadlifts or squats. Cross-training shoes are a safe bet as they usually work for almost all types of exercise.
Durability and cost-savings
You don’t have to break the bank on a closet full of new stuff but you will have no regrets investing in a few well-selected essentials to start off with. Prices vary greatly according to garment types across brands. Looking for something that gives you a bang for your buck? Spandex fibres are durable and last longer than conventional sportswear.
Protection from the elements
When exercising outdoors, make the sun, wind and water work in your favour. Fabrics like Gore-tex are synthetic membranes that coat regular fabrics, making it windproof and waterproof and still allow your skin to breathe. If you live near the Equator, the sun can be unforgiving at times. Protect yourself with sunscreen and UV-protective clothing graded according to the SPF factor. To get some sun protection without special gear, go for clothing with tighter weaves made from synthetic fabrics. Wearing a visor or cap will also help shield your face from the glare and sun rays. Layering up when exercising outdoors especially on cold mornings may be a good idea to prevent you from getting chills and allows you to peel off items as you warm up. By protecting yourself from the sun, preventing cold wind from passing through and water from penetrating through your clothes, you can channel all your energy and focus into your workout while being at peace with yourself and nature.
So, there you have it, eight reasons why the right active wear matters. Wearing the right workout gear not only makes you look and feel good when you torch those calories or tone your physique, it boosts your confidence for an awesome workout and you’ll be pumped at the end of your workout session!
References:How To Choose The Right Workout Clothes
10 Fitness Fabrics, Explained
The Compression Clothing Phenomenon
Bringing Light Into The Dark: Effects of Compression Clothing On Performance and Recovery