A personal victory for me, as I crested the final hill on the long arduous hiking trail. After months, I would celebrate a personal best. Emerging from a sedentary lifestyle the obstacles seemed insurmountable and there was some physical challenges to overcome. But as I stood at the top of that mountain realizing the 10 miles in 90 minutes. A cool wind whipped around me and I initially thought, “Ah – relief, pulling my dripping shirt away from my skin, this will cool me off.” However instead of feeling refreshed the wind chilled me to the bone. I thought I had dressed properly but apparently I missed it – before heading out that afternoon!
Wearing the right clothing can make the difference between an enjoyable workout verses an hour of misery.
Forget the fancy labels and the latest fashion trends, the best workout clothes are those suited to make working out as comfortable as possible – for you.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your work out clothing.
Choose the right Fabric
If you’re going to be perspiring a lot, make sure your base layer will keep you dry and comfortable. Look for a polyester/ Lycra blend or another synthetic material. These materials keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When wet they dry quickly. If your preference is natural materials – wool and bamboo exercise shirts naturally “wick” away moisture too!
- There are many breathable synthetic fabrics that “wick” the sweat away from your skin, which can help it to evaporate quickly and keep your body cool. Clothing made out of fabrics containing polypropylene or fabrics such as COOLMAX® and SUPPLEX® are a good choice for exercise and other activities in which you are likely to sweat a lot, as they allow the sweat to be evaporated from the skin but do not soak clothing and leave you feeling sweaty and uncomfortable.
Consider your choice of cotton. While cotton shirts and pants will absorb the sweat, they don’t pull it away from the skin or help it to evaporate quickly. That’s why cotton workout clothes can feel heavy and wet during your workouts!
Get the Right Fit
- Avoid fabrics that don’t breathe. Never wear clothing made out of rubber-based or plastic-based materials, which keep sweat from evaporating and keep your body temperature too high during a workout.
- Avoid any rough fabrics that could chafe or irritate your skin during repetitive movement. Materials that let you move and will not constrict your movements. Pay closer attention to the fit rather then the size. Some work out clothes run smaller and are more form fitting than regular clothing. Choosing items that have a small percentage of spandex will allow for greater range of motion. Providing a comfortable fit without being skin tight.
Make sure that your workout clothes fit your body and the workout that you have planned. In general, keep in mind that you don’t want any clothing that gets in the way of the activity.
Change with the Seasons
Your workout wardrobe should be versatile, carrying you from the hottest months to the coldest months for outdoor exercising. To avoid overspending during the changes of the seasons, when shopping, look for items that can easily layer during the cooler months. Start with a moisture-wicking dry layer, such as a wicking T-shirt or tank top, then add a warmer layer such as a fleece pullover. Finish with a protective outer layer (for waterproofing and wind proofing) such as a windbreaker or a nylon shell. Shop during the off-season for the best deals.
- Hot weather. Choose fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and wick sweat away. Dress in clothes that are not only cool and comfortable, but also allow you to move freely.
- Cold weather. Obviously you’ll need to dress warmly. but exercising boosts your heart rate and your body temperature. Dress in layers that you can remove, but be sure to keep sweat-wicking clothing as your inner layer. Adding an insulating layer on top of that. Cover your head, ears, and hands to protect them from the cold.
- Wet or windy weather. Nothing can ruin an outdoor workout faster than getting soaked in the rain or caught in a strong wind. Wear an outer layer that protects you from the elements.
Proper fitness attire doesn’t stop with just your shirt. Cotton socks can also trap moisture and cause blisters, while a polyester-blend sock may help prevent them. Shorts, gloves, hats, sport bras and workout pants—even underwear—are also available in performance fabrics.
Just remember that no matter what the temperature, level of intensity, choice of activity, comfort is the key to making your work outs more enjoyable – and eliminating our excuses. You are likely to work up a sweat during your daily regimen so keep yourself as comfortable as possible.