The great thing about wearing nice workout gear to the gym is that it makes you look like you know what you're doing - even if you don't have the foggiest. But there's another reason it's advisable to avoid wearing an oversized cotton t-shirt in place of something more fitting and breathable: it could actually hinder your workout.
While we've all got plenty of old, baggy t-shirts lying around that might feel like the perfect gymwear where comfort is concerned, Nick Harris, a Human Performance Specialist and the creator of HPE Activewear, is here to correct us.
"What you wear to work out in is incredibly important, with research revealing a direct correlation between what you wear and how you perform, as well as your motivation levels and even likelihood of injury," he told Cosmopolitan UK.
The first issue is that cotton absorbs sweat easily, "retaining moisture and leaving you feeling sweaty and uncomfortable," Nick said. But that's more problematic than just making you feel gross. "Wet, sweaty clothing can irritate your skin and cause a whole host of skin problems, including rashes and itching during a workout and even acne," he explained.
"Even worse, mould, bacteria, and fungus from the air can multiply in the wet clothing environment and further irritate your skin and cause skin odour," the expert added. In order to combat this, Harris advised opting for "light, breathable and sweat-wicking fabrics which will draw moisture away from the body, leaving you feeling dry and comfortable".
If you're unsure of exactly what to look for, Harris advised that good quality and well-designed activewear "should feel like a second skin, ensuring you don’t feel restricted while you train." This is so vital, he noted, because being able to exercise in total comfort means you can solely concentrate on the task at hand, allowing you to work out to the best of your ability and minimise risk of injury.
"To prevent injury, opt for clothing which provides ample protection against impact, strain, or overheating. Unfortunately cotton clothing provides very little support and this in turn can result in injury," the expert said, adding: "I’d advise investing in good quality compression wear when undergoing intense exercise, which has been designed to increase circulation and blood flow to the heart, delivering much needed oxygen to working muscles.
"This also helps to reduce fatigue and soreness by managing lactic acid accumulation, helping to improve power, endurance and recovery."
This is all the permission we needed to buy some nice new leggings, right?
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