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How to Buy the Right Clothes for Your Workout

Is your athletic performance suffering during your workout? Are you finding yourself drenched in sticky sweat during aerobic activities? You might not realize it, but the right activewear can make a big difference to how you feel both during and after a workout.

Loose-fitting cotton clothes might be fine for some low-impact, gentle exercises that won’t make you work up a sweat, but for most things, you’re going to need high quality athletic gear made from performance fabrics. Quality activewear and athleisure clothes prioritize comfort and design. They’re also made with modern performance fabrics that wick sweat, help with evaporation, provide compression to support blood flow, and protect your body from the elements. Here’s what you need to look for when you buy clothes for your workout.

Sweat-Wicking and Odor Control

Getting all sweaty is hands-down the worst part of working out. But performance fabrics mitigate the misery. These fabrics attract moisture, so they wick sweat away from your skin quickly. They also dry faster than cotton, which tends to get waterlogged and heavy when you sweat in it. Performance fabrics support your body’s natural cooling process, which relies on rapid evaporation of sweat to cool you down and regulate your temperature.

Performance fabrics can also control odors and protect you from viruses, fungi, and bacteria. These days, antimicrobial athleisure and activewear garments are getting more popular, because they can keep you from smelling during a workout and protect you from disease, too. The fabrics are treated with zinc and other chemicals that kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi on contact. Since body odors are a byproduct of bacterial life processes, wearing antimicrobial clothes to workout will keep your body odors under control.

Compression Qualities

Many performance fabrics offer compression qualities, which can actually improve your athletic performance while you’re wearing them. Compression clothing helps keep blood flowing through your muscles, oxygenating them so they don’t produce as much lactic acid and don’t get as sore the next day. Because they support blood flow, compression clothes can also support your heart functioning, so you can perform better and get more out of your workout, as well as feeling better the next day.

Comfort and Design

Workout clothes should be comfortable enough to allow you a full range of motion, but they should be designed for the specific activity at hand. Most clothes should be tight-fitting so they don’t get caught in bicycle wheels or gym equipment, and so they stay put while you’re moving around and don’t give the other members of your fitness class a show. If you’re doing an activity like biking or rock climbing, make sure you’re wearing the appropriate clothing and shoes for it. Sneakers won’t give you the same traction that climbing shoes will, and if you go for a long bike ride in short shorts, you’re going to get some chafing. Clothes are designed the way they are to support your performance, the way hiking boots come with extra cushioning in the heels and soles to allow you walk further without feeling fatigued.

You should consider fashion when you’re shopping for workout clothes, too. Scientists have found that wearing activewear you like and feel good in can actually improve your performance. Enclothed cognition refers to the psychological effect that clothes have on the wearer. When you put on stylish workout clothes made from quality performance fabrics, you’ll feel more athletic, enough so that it will actually improve your performance.

Protection from the Weather

If you like to exercise outdoors, then you’ll need to dress in layers for cold weather and use sun protection every day. Buy skin-tight, sweat-wicking layers to go closest to your skin, and warm fleece or cotton layered over it to keep you warm on cold days. For sun protection, look for performance fabrics that provide sun protection factor (SPF). These fabrics are often woven tighter and therefore provide more protection from the wind, too. Performance fabrics that protect your skin from the sun can allow you to skip the sunblock when you’re exercising outdoors. Your skin will be healthier if you’re not clogging up your pores with sun creams, and you’ll be less likely to get skin cancer from the sun.

When it comes to buying workout clothes, it’s worth it to splurge on quality. You might be surprised at how much of a difference wearing the right clothes can make to your workout. You’ll perform better, get fitter, and enjoy yourself more when you’re dressed for success.