7 Myths about Exercise Clothes

Whether you’re headed to a local park for a run or into your living room to do crunches, you’ll look and feel your best when wearing the right clothes. But before you go shopping, consider these myths about what works best for workout gear. You’ll learn to buy like a pro—and feel pumped about your workout.

Myth 1: Cotton is the best fabric for workout clothes.
Actually “all cotton” isn’t a great option for workout wear since it absorbs sweat. It won’t take long before you start feeling weighed down as you exercise if you’re wearing an outfit made from all cotton. If you do high-intensity workouts, choose a moisture-wicking fabric such as a cotton/nylon blend that will help keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Or choose one of the synthetic fabrics, such as Coolmax® or Supplex®, which are breathable and will help sweat evaporate quickly. Spandex works great if you’re into yoga, Pilates, or another form of exercise where you will be bending, stretching, and flexing your muscles, because it moves right along with you. Or choose a cotton/polyester blend since it will allow your body to move without feeling constrained.

Myth 2: Always buy workout clothes in dark colors so you’ll look slimmer.
While dark colors can be sophisticated, sleek, and slimming, think twice if you tend to exercise outside. If you cycle or walk, especially at dawn or after dark, you should always wear light-colored clothing, preferably with reflective material on it (and that holds true of rain gear as well).Add a hat and sunglasses for hot weather days, so you’ll get extra protection against the elements.

Myth 3: A loose fit is best.
The answer is, it depend. Loose fitting shorts are best for interval walking and casual cycling (though if you’re bored with the look, consider one of the cute skorts now on the market). But for weight training or yoga, lose the shorts and wear semi-fitted capri pants or yoga pants. Be sure to avoid outfits that have drawstrings (they tend to get caught in weight stacks), boot-cut pants, or flare-leg pants (they can get caught in various machines at the gym) and any clothing that has flowing material.

Myth 4: Tee shirts are the perfect thing to wear on top.
If you love your message tee shirt, no one will keep you from wearing it. But keep in mind that sleeveless tops are far more comfortable and won’t trap moisture against your body as you sweat. Whether you buy a tee shirt or sleeveless shirt, avoid those with tags, bedazzling, or anything else that can rub in uncomfortable places, and look closely to make sure the shirt has flat seams. The last thing you need is for your clothes to chafe as you work out.

Myth 5: A sports bra really isn’t necessary unless you’re into high-impact aerobic exercise.
Actually, a good sports bra is a workout essential. If your workout shirt doesn’t have a built-in one, choose a supportive bra that has a T-back or racer-back design to keep the straps from slipping off your shoulders. Avoid cotton bras and look for those made with a wicking material such as a polyester blend, which will keep you more comfortable as you work out.

Myth 6: Any good-quality sneaker is acceptable for walking.
Want to avoid blisters and calluses? Go with a specialized walking sneaker, which is more flexible and lightweight than cross trainers, tennis shoes, or other types of sneakers. Select sneakers that are neither too narrow nor too wide, making sure there’s enough room in the toe box to accommodate your socks, and buy according to what type of arch you have. If you have neutral-arched feet, look for shoes with firm midsoles and moderate heel stability. If you have high arches, you’ll want substantial cushioning in a shoe. If you have low arches or flat feet, ask about a shoe that will help to stabilize your arches.

Myth 7: The best way to buy exercise clothes is online.
As you are losing weight on the South Beach Diet, your clothing size will drop and your workout clothes will get looser, we hope. Rather than buying new, tighter clothes online and risking getting the wrong size, head to a sporting goods store and try on some of the workout wear. Stand in front of the mirror, bend and stretch, and see if the clothes move with you. Check out what you look like from all angles. See if the clothing feels comfortable. Finally, ask yourself: Do I feel good in this? Then treat yourself to a few new outfits—after all your hard work, you deserve them!

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