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What Should I Wear When Exercising?

Whether you’re shopping for maternity, plus size, petite or normal-sized workout clothes, you should take a couple of things into consideration. First, exercise, like outdoor activities, can vary drastically as to temperature.

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You may start out feeling chilly in an air-conditioned exercise room, then get hot and sweaty as you exercise, then get chilled again when you cool down. When you leave the A/C and walk to the car, you’ll either be freezing or too hot, and if you just had a shower as well, your hair may be wet. For all these reasons, layering is the answer to your workout wardrobe needs. You can probably stay comfortable with a pair of lightweight workout pants or shorts, a T-shirt, thick, absorbent socks and a sweatshirt to prevent chills.

Cotton is an excellent fabric for exercise clothes because it is absorbent, comes in a huge variety of thicknesses and is easy to care for. Some of the new fabrics include “wicking” action, sending perspiration away from the body and into the outer layer of the clothing. Cotton has some natural wicking action, but it doesn’t have the feel of Tencil or some of the other synthetic blends.

The new blends are smooth, and that can work for you or against you: some people prefer cotton underclothes because of their breathability, but like blends for outerwear. Cotton socks can be perfect, but some knits tend to chafe the feet as you slide around in your aerobics shoes. When you find a pair of cotton socks that feel good on your feet (especially during and after class), buy six pairs: fashions change so fast that you may have a hard time finding them if you wait three months.

Some people like to wear shorts when they work out: others are uncomfortable in them either because of where the shorts hit them on the leg, or the way they feel they look in them. If you have sensitive skin, shorts can be a bad choice, since they rub the insides of the leg: Bermuda or skateboarding shorts minimize chafing.

If you’re a fashionista, or belong to a health club where people are expected to dress like celebrities, you may opt for cropped tops, sports bras, tight pants or even a thong-leotard. Ideally, whatever you choose to wear will not only make you look wonderful, but will keep you comfortable during your workout!

Brassieres are important items in your workout wardrobe. You want a bra that offers the correct level of support, without tight straps to cut into your skin and make you miserable. Lace can be itchy, satin and nylon get slick with perspiration, and silk often bleeds color onto other clothes when it’s damp. Breathable fabrics, mixtures of cotton and Lycra, are ideal for bras. Bras should be snug but not too tight: cleavage is unnecessary at the gym unless you’re looking for love, and it can be darned inconvenient when your snack of trail mix slips down your front.

Shoes are especially important in aerobics, since anything you want to accomplish relies heavily on your feet. Choose shoes with good arch support, and if your ankles aren’t strong as tree trunks, investigate high-tops for ankle support too. Your socks should fit your shoes so they are snug but not tight. All-cotton or a cotton blend are good for socks: microfiber can be good if it’s thick, but thin socks tend to slip around in your shoes, or get sweaty and leave your feet sopping wet.

Continue reading the next aerobics article on how to buy aerobic athletic shoes

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