In reality, proper workout clothing needs to look good while performing well during whatever workout you chose to do. When you go shopping for your workout clothing, you need to think about two things. First, its ability to manage moisture and second, it's breathability. Both fit and feel play a part but moisture and breathability are the primary characteristics.
Moisture management refers to what the fabric does when it gets wet. Does it take the moisture away from the body or does it just hang in the material making it wetter and wetter. If the material resists absorbing the moisture, it is considered moisture wicking but if the material becomes heavy and wet, it is classified as absorbing.
Breathability simply refers to how well the air moves through the fabric. You are looking for a fabric that allows the hot air produced by your body to escape rather than remaining close to your body. The first type of fabric is much better for working out while the second situation is best in cooler, fall or winter weather.
Now it is time to look at the more common fabrics found in fitness clothing so you have a better idea of what you want. The most popular fabric used in fitness is polyester because it is found in almost any type of workout clothing. It is durable, resists wrinkles, and wicks moisture away from the body. It is also quite breathable, and lightweight so moisture evaporates through the fabric out into the air. Polyester can also double as a good insulator so is often used in winter clothing. It's main drawback is that it can cause bacteria and fungus to grow and retain any odors. To avoid the odor issue, wash workout clothing as soon as possible and it keeps bacteria and fungus from growing.
When you exercise outside in colder, or humid or nasty weather, consider polypropylene because it is a form of thin wearable plastic. It is waterproof, making it a good choice for a base layer or outerwear. It is most often found in rain jackets, sports undergarments, and skin tight base layers and socks. It is quite durable, and wrinkle resistant. It will also keep you dry when you exercise outside or in misty, humid, conditions.
Then there is nylon which is soft but resists mold and mildew. Nylon also is stretchy so it flexes with you as you move, and is known for returning to its original shape and size. It is another fabric that wicks sweat away from your skin out to be evaporated. It is found in all sorts of workout clothing from bras, to performance underwear, to tank tops, shorts, leggings, and sportswear designed for cold weather. It is good for all types of workout and in all weather conditions.
Spandex is good for workouts that require a high range of motion and is known as Lycra. It is wonderfully stretchy and flexible which makes it good for workouts such as yoga or weight lifting. It is often found in tight fitting clothing such as leggings, bras, and certain shorts. It is not as good at wicking moisture as other fabrics, nor is it as breathable but what it can do well is to stretch up to eight times its normal size. Consequently, it allows people to move unrestricted in any direction. If you want it to keep its ability to stretch, always wash the clothing in cold water and air dry. Do not dry it in the dryer or it could lose its ability to stretch.
Check back on Monday to continue reading about five more fabrics that are used in athletic wear. It is important to know the characteristics of each type of fabric so you can select clothing that is best for you. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.