"Dress properly for the occasion", as the saying goes. When it comes to exercising and athletics this couldn't be more fitting.
Like anything in life, having the right tools for the job is essential to success. Here we explore some of the options you have for exercising in comfort and uncover some of the less obvious benefits of proper sports-clothing.
What should I wear when doing athletics?
If you like to run, and who doesn't, then you'll want the right kit for the task. Nowhere is this more important than in the realm of athletics.
But what, exactly, should you consider donning?
You could just chuck on some cheap trainers, shorts and a top, but there are some sporting garments that can take your athletic performance to the next level.
According to sites like Real Men Style, recommended sports apparel would include the following: -
- A good quality running shirt like those produced by Tactical All-Season Comfort. These are soft and wick away moisture like nobody's business.
- Performance shorts like those provided by Strongbody Apparel. These are odor resistant and are very comfortable to wear and exercise in.
- Orthopedic sports shoes are a must. These will support your feet, ankles, and arches improving performance and reducing the risk of foot and ankle injury.
- For outdoor exercising like running, you might want to consider a cap and long sleeves to prevent sunburn. Suncream is great but it can clog your pores when exercising. For colder weather wrap up in the right clothes to prevent you from succumbing to the various illnesses associated with getting too cold.
- For weight lifting, you might also want to consider wearing some sports gloves. These will protect your hands and reduce the chances of developing blisters and callouses. The latter will also prevent you from getting "zombie fingers".
1. Good quality athletic clothing can make a big difference
It might smell like snake oil, but the right clothes can make all the difference if you are serious about athletics. One of the main benefits, according to various studies, is the psychological boost wearing the right clothes can provide.
Termed "enclothed cognition", it can really boost your performance. "Mind over matter" if you like.
An increase in confidence is never a bad thing and looking good will make you stand up straight and act the part. It will also get you "into the zone" ready for a good workout.
But there are some tangible physical benefits the right clothes can provide. A good fitting, breathable sports top will ensure that your morning run is more comfortable while also improving your performance and endurance.
Non-breathable material tops restrict the release of heat from the body. This results in excessive heating of the body and discomfort.
100% cotton clothes will absorb the sweat and hold it against your body. Make sure you choose workout clothing that wick perspiration away from your body.
Good fitting clothes will also allow freedom of movement when exercising. Too tight and your clothing will hamper your ability to perform to the best of your ability.
That being said, special sports clothing like compression clothing can be beneficial to you too. Especially if you are trying to recover from an injury but still maintain a basic exercise regime.
In fact, a 2013 German study found that compression clothing can speed up injury recovery. Good quality compression clothing should provide graduated compression to, in theory, stimulate circulation and blood flow.
More or improved blood flow prevents lactic acid buildup in your muscles. Direct pressure can also reduce soreness and inflammation.
Shorts should be considered that don't ride up or slip down when moving around. Too baggy or loose and they could get in the way of some more complex gym activities.
2. Get the right kit for your feet
Wearing the right shoes is essential for casual and professional runners/joggers. They need to fit you (obviously) as this will reduce the risk of developing blisters, cramps and other running-related injuries.
You might want to consider high-topped shores to protect and support your ankles. Good sports shoes also provide excellent cushioning when running around or jumping in the gym.
You should also consider shoes with well-designed arch support. Orthopedic inserts, or designed shoes, offer the right support for your foot when exercising.
Cheaper or poorly fitting shoes can lead to a number of injuries. You should also check the condition of the mid-sole of the shoe after excessive use.
Many recommend changing them after, on average, 644 km of running.
3. The right workout gear helps prevent injury
Improperly fitting sports equipment can seriously increase the chances of sustaining unnecessary injuries. This will not only put you out of action for a while but could also impact your daily and working life.
What type of clothing you wear while also be influenced by the climate where you live and workout. While less important in conditioned gym facilities, if you like to run outside you'll want to ensure you are either covered up when cold or dressed appropriately for hotter weather.
For hotter, sunnier climates, you should also consider a cap or other headdresses to protect your neck and face from sunburn. You might also want to consider long-sleeved tops to protect your arms from excessive UV-radiation exposure.
This way you won't run the risk of clogging your skin's pores with suncream.
Why is it important to wear appropriate sports clothing?
The right sports clothes are important for two main reasons:-
- They can improve your performance.
- They can reduce the risk of injury or illness.
The right clothes will not only protect you from the elements if you exercise outside, but also keep you cool, or warm, depending on the climate.
Good clothing will be able to wick away sweat and will also be breathable. They will also be durable and provide a better bang for your buck.
Good sports clothes should also be comfortable to prevent the chances of chaffing your skin or causing blisters etc. Good, well-designed and fitting sports clothes will also not restrict your movement (including compression options).
This is essential for more aerobic activities.
Do you have to wear workout clothes to work out?
That is completely up to you. But, not to labor the point, specially designed sportswear provides some benefits beyond "looking the part".
If you are less concerned with high-performance, the type of clothes should ensure you are least comfortable.
"You should wear clothes that are loose and comfortable. But if you are running or biking, avoid wide-leg or loose pants that could get tangled up in the pedals or your feet. For activities such as yoga or Pilates, stretchy, fitted fabrics that wick away sweat are a good choice." - Everyday Health.
That being said, your gym might have a dress code or footwear requirements that should be followed. But also bear in mind the benefits of proper sports clothes with regards to avoiding injury, as we have already covered.
How should I dress for exercise?
At the end of the day, you should buy and wear clothes that are right for you and your ambitions. Apart from the benefits (and requirements) detailed above, the choice is ultimately yours.
"All that said, certain fabrics are better at wicking away moisture. In terms of exercise, this means keeping your sweat off of you. This helps prevent chafing and rashes...
"Most workout clothes are tighter fitting so they don't get caught in machines or blown up in the wind, but otherwise, it doesn't matter much." - Life Hacker.