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Look Good While You Get Fit

The right exercise clothes can improve your workout -- and your attitude

Put Function First continued...

Loose-fitting tops are also not appropriate for yoga or Pilates because they can ride up during some of the moves, says Ellen Wessel, president of the Moving Comfort athletic wear company, High-impact activities also require more form-fitting tops -- especially for larger-breasted women -- to minimize movement and promote comfort and support, Wessel says.

Comfort is key, too. So look for clothing that moves moisture away from the body as quickly as possible, Ediger says.

"A 100% cotton T-shirt will get soaking wet quickly and will stay wet," she says. As a result, you'll be uncomfortable and may be tempted to cut your workout short.

And take care not to overdress. "A good rule of thumb is to keep cool by wearing as little clothing as you feel comfortable in (and is appropriate to the setting) because people exercise more vigorously when they are not overheated," Kase says.

Most important of all, make sure you're wearing a good pair of workout shoes, says Brick. Go for quality, and choose the right pair for your activity.

"Shoes need to be supportive and specific to the activity you plan to do," she says. Running shoes, for example, do not provide enough lateral support for the side-to-side movement that is called for in an aerobics or step class.

What Lies Beneath

Don't overlook your underwear -- especially if you're a woman.

"Larger-breasted women can carry as much as five pounds per breast, making participating in high-impact activities like running difficult because of severe breast discomfort, says Elizabeth Goeke, executive vice president of Moving Comfort.

These women should look for workout bras made specifically for their figures, with such features as adjustable straps for a custom fit and breathable fabrics to minimize chafing. Smaller-busted women will benefit from sports bras in their sizes.

For optimal comfort for both women and men, choose the right fabric for your underwear.

"Cotton is not the right choice," says Goeke. "Look for performance fabric that is breathable, moisture-wicking and quick-drying. These fabrics won't promote bacteria growth and are better than cotton for health reasons."

Or you can bypass underpants altogether and work out in fitness shorts, pants, or tights with a built-in crotch panel, Wessel adds. Don't wear underwear with these garments, she says, because it will negate the benefits of the performance fabrics used for the built-in liners.

Finishing Touches

While you want to look good while working out, exercising while fully made up is never a good idea, says Rachel Weingarten, co-founder of airkisses.com, an online style sheet for women.

"If you're serious about your workout, then forgo any makeup, which might clog your pores while you sweat," says Weingarten. Opt for a clean face, with a cotton or terry headband to keep sweat off your face. If you prefer not to go completely au naturale, use a tinted moisturizer and tinted lip balm to add a bit of color to your face.

Don't overdo the jewelry either, which can get in the way and may make it hard to grip equipment and lift weights, Weingarten says.

Instead, focus on a sharp-looking outfit, and the great feeling you get from a successful workout.

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Reviewed on June 22, 2005

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