Importance of Clothing in Exercise

Winter running in a mountain road
A man runs in snowy conditions. (Image: Estudi M6/iStock/Getty Images)

The clothing you wear to work out is just as important as bringing water with you. Clothing has many functions, and it is important to choose the right outfit for the activity you are performing and for the conditions you will be performing it in. With a little preparation, you can choose the perfect clothing for your workout.

Weather

If you are exercising outside, you need to consider the weather. In hot weather, the right clothing can help prevent heat-related illnesses. Loose clothing allows air to cool your body and evaporate sweat. Choose light colors instead of dark to reflect the sun’s rays away from your body. In cold weather, choosing easily layered clothing allow you to remove clothes as you heat up and add layers if you become cold from sweat. A polypropylene layer near your body can absorb the sweat, so you won't become chilled when it evaporates. Outer layers with ventilated openings can also help you regulate your body temperature in colder weather. A face mask or scarf can protect your lungs from the cold air, and gloves and warm socks can protect your hands and feet. In both types of weather, head protection is essential. In the winter, choose warm hat to insulate your head. In warmer months, a light hat shields your head from the sun.

Movement

Choose loose clothing for physical activity so you have the right amount of movement to perform the exercise correctly and comfortably. For instance, if you wear jeans and try to stretch, you won’t be able to push your body as far as if you wear loose clothing.

Confidence

You also want to choose clothes that make you feel self-confident. The better you feel in your clothes, the more likely you will be to feel positive about exercise and want to continue doing it. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, African-American women who feel self-conscious about the way they look and the clothing they exercise in are less likely to participate in physical activity.

Shoes

Shoes are extremely important for physical activity, especially for high-impact exercises such as running. Most stores sell specialty sneakers for different types of exercise, such as running, cross-training and basketball. Experts at these stores can often advise you on the best shoes for your preferred activity. The President’s Council suggests shoes with heavy soles with a lot of cushioning and proper support for the arches of your feet.

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