The last few years have seen a surge in activewear aimed specifically at women. Whether it’s high-tech sports bras or brightly-colored yoga pants, there’s a huge range out there that looks great. But did you know that the activewear you buy might not actually be good for your body?
Women’s activewear needs to do more than just look pretty; it could — and should — support your body correctly, and make exercising easier.
In the post below, we’ll be looking at five health benefits of having the appropriate activewear for women and why it’s important to be wearing the right apparel.
Health benefit #1: The right activewear can help your skin breathe
We all know that working out is good for us; it keeps our bodies functioning healthy, and can help to improve our mental wellbeing too. And, when you workout, you sweat.
Sweating is your body’s way of cooling you down. Working up a sweat means that you’re pushing yourself in your workout, and can be quite satisfying. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to suffer in sweaty silence every time we do exercise.
The answer? Moisture-wicking activewear.
Moisture-wicking materials (usually synthetic material blends) are specifically designed to tackle sweat issues, by drawing sweat to the surface of the material. This makes it easier for sweat to evaporate and keep you cool.
Activewear made from these materials is usually light, breathable and dries quickly. As a result, your clothes don’t retain moisture which can make you damp, heavy and uncomfortable during and post-exercise.
It’s important to invest in activewear that is breathable and moisture-wicking; anything less will leave you feeling hot and sweaty. If sweat sits on the skin too long, it can irritate your skin and cause inflammation.
Health benefit #2: Sports bras can reduce breast pain & discomfort
If you’re planning on working up a sweat, then you need to pick the right bra. Whatever the exercise type or level of intensity, we cannot state the importance of wearing the right sports bra enough.
This is a classic case of women’s activewear that needs to do more than just look good: a good sports bra is an essential part of any woman’s gym kit.
Wearing a bra that doesn’t support you can put a huge strain on your breast tissue — especially when performing high-impact exercise. This can make your boobs feel achy, uncomfortable and even painful during exercise or after.
The presence of underwiring masquerading as support can make the situation worse too, by digging into the side of your breast.
Luckily, there have been some pretty revolutionary advances when it comes to sports bras. New sports bras technology, found in sportswear like Knix, provides sports bras that are protective and comfy.
The right sports bra will support your boobs and restrict their movement, through either encapsulation, compression, or a combination of both. This means that you’re protected, even during high-impact sports like running and high levels of movement.
Health benefit #3: A supportive sports bra can prevent sagging
The importance of wearing a good sports bra stretches far beyond the immediate discomfort and pain, a poorly-chosen sports bra could even contribute to your breasts being more likely to sag in the long-term. Who knew?
Choosing the right sports bra is particularly vital if you work out a lot; especially if you tend to do high-impact sports. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but when you exercise, your boobs exercise with you. In fact, they move around even more than you do!
Studies show that breasts move around in a figure of eight pattern during jogging or running, rather than just up and down. On average, researchers saw an average of around 9cm movement, with up to 21cm in some women. This affects boobs of all shapes and sizes, regardless of whether you’re jogging or sprinting.
This increased movement of the breasts from running can actually cause irreparable damage and stretching to the skin, tissue, and ligaments of the breast. Your skin’s elasticity can be affected, and it could cause your breasts to sag and lose shape over time.
That’s why it’s so important that women have activewear that does more than just look good.
A good sports bra will restrict the movement of your breasts through compression or encapsulation (or both). This reduces the strain that your boobs are under, and reduces the risks of sagging.
Health benefit #4: Activewear can enhance performance & improve technique
Whether you’re running, swimming or lifting, the right activewear can even help to improve your technique and performance.
Sounds unlikely? Meet compression wear. Usually coming in the form of leggings, socks or sleeves, compression wear compresses parts of your body while you exercise.
This compression enhances your athletic performance by increasing blood flow to and from your limbs, therefore keeping your muscles oxygenated and working better.
Overall, this boosts your performance — plus there’s even the added benefit of compression wear which prevents chafing and rashes that could make you uncomfortable during exercise.
There are many different brands like Sweaty Betty and Nike that offer awesome muscle-compressing leggings for women, so that you can get the most out of your workout, whether it’s weightlifting or running.
Wearing the right activewear can also help to improve your technique. You might not think it, but what you wear can have a huge influence on how your body and muscles move during exercise.
For example, if you’re wearing a baggy cotton tee-shirt to go jogging, you’ll find that the loose material gets in the way of your natural movement, and will hold moisture, making your outfit heavy. The same goes for inadequate sports bras: if you’re not supported properly, running and other high-impact sports can become more difficult to do well.
Choosing the right athletic footwear is important as well; always pick shoes that will suit the activity, do some research, and if in doubt, speak to an expert. A good pair of running shoes will provide comfort, flexibility, support, grip and ventilation.
Health benefit #5: Compression wear can even aid recovery
It makes sense that wearing the right activewear can support your body and add more enjoyment to your workout. But could it really help to aid your recovery post-exercise?
Well, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
Compression wear applies pressure to your body, which stabilizes the muscle and decrease the amount of muscular vibration that happens when you’re exercising — like the shock running through your legs when you’re jogging on a hard pavement. Over time, these vibrations add up and create muscle fatigue, which can make your legs feel wobbly and weak, and negatively affect your performance.
Leggings and other compression wear reduces muscle vibrations, which leads to decreased fatigue. Such items can even get rid of lactic acid build-up in the muscles — which leads to muscle soreness — by forcing the lactic acid out.
All of this results in a quicker recovery time after you’ve finished exercising (because there’s less soreness and fatigue to recover from). Sounds pretty awesome, right?
This is all stuff that you can achieve with a good pair of compression leggings or socks; before you’ve even started exercising!
As women, we are often told that we need to choose between fashion and function. But women’s activewear needs to do more than just look good. You need to be supported, protected and comfortable when you’re working out.
Ultimately, what you wear can make a huge difference to your body, performance, technique, and recovery time — and can have lasting effects.
Find activewear that suits your needs and your body, and you’ll soon notice the difference that it will make to your fitness regime and your life.