Workout Gear: Necessary Investment or the Fashion Industry Trying to Make a Buck?
These days it seems like you need a specific coordinated outfit for each individual type of exercise you plan to do; God forbid you wear your yoga pants on a jog or your football jersey to the gym!
The truth is that there is some gear that has been invented for very specific and workout-helpful purposes. For example, you shouldn’t wear the shoes you wear during a race around a track while jogging on a treadmill (or jogging anywhere, really). So that made us wonder: what, exactly, do you actually need to wear when you are working out?
The Right Shoes
While we want you to read the rest of the article we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that you can wear just about whatever clothing you like while you work out and you’ll probably be fine. Your feet, though, are another matter entirely. It is incredibly important that you have the right shoes for the type of workout you’re going to do. The reason you shouldn’t wear track shoes on a treadmill (or a sidewalk, for that matter) is that they are light weight and don’t offer a ton of support.
Furthermore, they are equipped with spikes that are meant to dig into a track and give you traction while you sprint. Those same spikes force your foot to bend upward slightly when you wear track shoes on non-track surfaces and could cause damage if worn for long periods of time.
Compression clothing has long been used to help people heal after illness or injury and to prevent problems like improving blood circulation and preventing blood clots during long trips (like a cross country flight where you might not be able to get up and walk around a lot). Compression clothing is created to have some give (to accommodate swelling) while also maintaining its shape and structure. Some people have sworn that it helps improve their performance and speeds up the muscle toning process.
Where compression gear can be really helpful is after a workout. Specifically crafted athletic compression gear from companies like Therafirm is great for marathons or lengthy training sessions because it helps keep blood circulating and alleviates the pressure that builds up and causes swelling.
Comfort, Health and Safety
Beyond shoes and compression, what you wear is largely up to you. You can wear that ratty old cotton t-shirt and pair of shorts to the gym if you want. What would be more helpful, though, is choosing at least a couple of things that are built specifically for exercising. Here’s why:
Clothing meant for sports and exercise is usually built from materials designed to wick moisture (aka sweat) away from your skin instead of simply absorbing it into itself. Cotton is very absorbent but leaves you with a wet shirt hanging all over you. It also allows moisture to pool in inconvenient places. Those pools can lead to problems like fungal infections (think athlete’s foot where you really don’t want it) and staph infections. Yuck!
Clothing built for sports and working out is usually built to fit snugly against your body while still allowing you to move. You might feel self-conscious at first (it puts most of your shape on display, which can be uncomfortable) but you’ll feel more self-conscious when you accidentally trip over your those loose and flappy legs of your sweatpants or accidentally punch yourself because your arm got tangled in the loose and flapping hem of your t-shirt.
So: make sure your feet and muscles are supported, that you can move and that you keep moisture from pooling in inconvenient places. Beyond that, it’s up to you!