Proper Gym Wear While Exercising

gym wear, gym clothes

Why do we need proper gym wear while exercising?

The proper gym wear can help prevent skin irritation and other body injuries.

Gym wear and perspiration 

The proper gym wear is important because exercising increases perspiration which leads to an increased risk of yeast infections.  Fungal infections occur more commonly in sweaty moist environments. It is recommended that you shower after working out. If you are unable to shower, plan on at least removing your wet fitness clothes and changing into something dry.

Sweat-wicking gym wear can help prevent perspiration from building up thereby decreasing the risk of skin irritation, fungal infections, and open wounds.

Gym wear and exercise

Tight gym wear
Tight gym wear can cause skin excoriation in the belly, chest and thigh areas. Make sure your gym wear is padded and comfortable. The elastic bands should not be cutting into the skin.

Chafing from gym wear

Chafing is the act of making skin sore by rubbing against it. Skin irritation can occur which can lead to skin breakdown, rashes, and folliculitis.

Folliculitis is a condition where the hair follicle becomes irritated. Shaving the skin before working out with tight fitting clothes will increase the chance of folliculitis as the hair follicles get irritated as you perspire.Chaffing creams and ointments can assist in the prevention of a skin irritation. Ointments may offer some benefit over creams as they are thicker and water repellent.

Chaffing creams and ointments can assist in the prevention of a skin irritation. Ointments may offer some benefit over creams as they are thicker and water repellent.

Tight gym wear can also restrict blood flow which can lead to numbness. This condition may be referred to as meralgia paresthetica. It is similar to what occurs in those who wear girdles or shapewear.

Breast injury prevention with the proper gym wear

A support bra is important to help support the breasts while exercising. The breasts are mainly supported by the skin and Coopers’ ligaments. Both the skin and Cooper’s ligaments are thin and can easily loose their ability to support the breast over time. Repetitive motion and high impact sports cause the breasts to bounce which pulls on Cooper’s ligaments causing them to stretch resulting in sagging breasts.

Proper gym wear such as a sports bra can help support the breasts as well as decrease neck, back, and shoulder pain. Pain can occur in these areas when the breasts bounce up and down for an extended period of time and strain these areas.

According to the Daily Mail, “Running without any bra at all causes the average woman’s breasts to move up and down by 8.5 cm. Wearing an ordinary bra reduces this by 32 per cent. A sports bra reduces this by at least another 20 percent.”

See more on sports bras in my next post.

Vaginal discharge and gym wear

You may see more vaginal discharge when you are running as the abdominal and pelvic pressure increases. Some women may benefit from a panty liner or shorts with built in underwear. Increasing vaginal discharge + perspiration will increase your risk of infection.

Numbness and gym wear

Padded shorts and padded equipment can help prevent a sore butt.

According to Dr Sherry Ross’s book, She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period,

Bicycle seats can also cause vaginal numbness in those who cycle for an extended period of ties. Ensure you are using a padded seat if you are riding for long stretches.

Chamois cream and maintaining smooth skin are also important in preventing skin irritation when cycling for extended periods.

Urinary leakage and gym wear

Childbirth and menopause can worsen a weakened pelvic floor. Exercises such as running and jumping jacks can increase bladder leakage making it difficult to workout at the gym.

Going to the bathroom before working out as well as wearing a panty liner can help prevent embarrassing episodes.

Over the counter, bladder supports are also available to help decrease leakage. Bladder supports function by providing support to the bladder neck of the urethra or the urethra itself. These devices help keep the urethra closed. If abdominal and or pelvic pressures increase there is less of a chance that leakage will occur. Before using any of these devices please consult with your physician and ensure you have a proper work up.

Dr. Dana Rice, the creator of The UTI Tracker which helps prevent urinary tract infections states, “Motivated patients with mild to moderate stress incontinence can benefit from a physician-guided treatment plan. This can be a helpful tool when used in conjunction with other behavioral modifications.”

The UTI tracker can also help keep track of bladder leakage. According to Dr. Rice, “The UTI Tracker has an easy to use voiding diary that can help you track your progress. Remember to record your urgency and incontinence episodes.”

Testicle Injury and gym wear

The body has the ability to protect testicles while running or engaging in other high impact sports, the testicles are drawn up close to the trunk.

Consider wearing gym wear such as shorts which can provide support to the testicles

Exercise can also cause pain in the testicles. Some men such as those with a varicocele may be at higher risk for developing pain in their testicles while exercising. A varicocele is a vein abnormality in the scrotum, the veins enlarge and cause swelling. The Cleveland Clinic suggests wearing a jockstrap while exercising to help decrease scrotal pain.

Gym wear and sperm count

Moderate exercise can increase erections and sperm count. 

Studies have also shown that too much running such as those men who are training for a marathon may have decreased sperm counts. This is thought to be triggered by the stress that the body undergoes with intense training.

There is no conclusive evidence that boxers or briefs will change sperm count.

There is no conclusive evidence that saunas will affect sperm count.

There is concern that hot tubs will  decrease sperm count as the testicles are submerged in hot water.

Foot protection gym wear

Foot protection is important when lifting weights, there is a chance the weight will drop and cause a foot injury. The better the foot is protected the less chance of injury.

Do not walk around barefoot on communal shower floors,  there is a higher risk of fungal infections. Flip flops or water shoes should be a part of your gym wear.

Tips for avoiding infections at the gym

Keep a hand towel readily available.

Make sure the equipment is cleaned with disinfectant wipes as they may help disinfect the machines and items such as yoga mats. Skin infections with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been described.  Make sure the wipe is not reused as bacteria can spread.

Wash your gym wear after each use as they harbor bacteria.

Shower after using the hot tub as the heat from the hot tub can harbor bacteria.

What type of gym wear do you use?

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About Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS 231 Articles
I am a physician who is interested in providing health information and health tips so that we may live healthy lives.

18 Comments

  1. Wow, some great points. Exercise is so good for the body but there is a lot we need to look out for too. I never thought about chafing increasing folliculitis. Thanks.

  2. Hi Dr. Sharon,

    Interesting post about protecting our body parts while exercising. I was hoping to get something to pass on to my (almost) gym rat wife. Other than the tight yoga pants, she’s pretty much in line with your gym wear tips.

    Good post, thanks,
    Edward

  3. My how timely, being that I am an avid gym participant now… I do try to wear loose, comfortable clothing. I do like some of the “fashion” for working out – leggings. But not the sexy looking tops. I have not had any of the above mentioned problems – thankfully 🙂 I’ll keep them in mind …

  4. Hi Dr. McLaughlin,

    I used to wear leotards and tights (when they were in fashion). The material was not soothing for the skin and caused chafing, sweat could not escape – but it looked good. Now, when I work out I wear a comfortable blouse, preferably cotton and loose fitting workout pants with sneakers and socks. My outfits may not be as fashionable but the comfort is more important.

    Warmly,

    Dr. Erica

  5. Great information on proper gym wear. There are so many reason everyone should wear proper gym wear for men and women. We all have different concerns and needs. Comfort and breathability is key.

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  1. Sports Bra information. Wearing a sports bra while exercising is important as it helps support the breast tissue. Proper fit of the sports bra If you are thinking about your bra when you are working out it is a sure bet that the sports bra is not the corr

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