One of the most important things you can do before beginning your exercise journey is to get the proper attire. Too many people are still wearing cotton t-shirts, basketball shorts, and nike frees to go running and its a recipe for chafing and injury. Below I have listed out the common necessities for walking & running.
Shirts- Synthetic shirts are a must. Not only do they prevent chafing but they also are moisture wicking, and some even have UV protectant properties in the shirts. Yes, they are a little more expensive but they are worth it. Even starting out with 2 synthetic shirts, working out 3-4 days a week is fine! They can be machine washed (don’t put them in the dryer!) and air dry very quickly.
Sports Bras- Wearing a regular bra to exercise is never comfortable. Find yourself a supportive and comfortable bra that allows you to freely exercise without the girls hurting every step you take.
If you are unsure what type of bra you should be in, there are several stores that do bra fittings for sports bras such as Fleet Feet Sports! You should be comfortable in your clothes, not waiting to get them off.
Shorts/Leggings- Shorts are much more lenient as to what you can wear. The styles range from “puffy shorts” to fitted pro shorts, to baggy basketball shorts. If you are just walking, you can probably get away with the basketball shorts but it’s not recommended to wear for running or biking.
Leggings for colder months are also a must. Most of the sports leggings are good enough quality to keep you warm… even getting a pair at Walmart for $5 would be better than trying to run through the winter in shorts. Leggings also have different thicknesses and lengths (capri vs. full-length), so it may be a good idea to invest in a few pairs, especially if you live in an area with colder climates.
Socks- The cotton socks have got to go! Cotton socks are a huge culprit for causing blisters on the tops of your toes and ball & heel of your foot. The main cause for this
is the fact that they don’t have sweat resistant features in the sock so you essentially just sit in the pool of your own sweat. Because the sock is then damp, friction increases between your foot and the sock… often leading to a nasty blister.
Again, athletic clothes aren’t cheap but you only need a few pair of socksto get started. You can often also find good deals on synthetic running socks at most outlets arounds the country!
Shoes- This is probably the most important part of good exercise gear. Most people still are choosing their shoes based on brand and looks. However, if you don’t wear the proper shoe that fits your foot correctly, you run a huge risk of getting injured.
There are different categories of shoes based on whether you pronate or supinate, have a wide or narrow foot, and need more or less cushion. You can’t possibly know exactly what is best for your foot without having a professional size you!
There are hundreds of stores that now help you fit into the correct shoe. A store I mentioned earlier, Fleet Feet Sports, does exactly that for their customers. If you are in the Maine area, check out one of their two locations (Portland and Brunswick) and get your foot sized on the new 3-D Foot Scanner they have!
Layers- I’ve added this category mostly for people that live in colder weather. Though I have already touched on it earlier, I want to reiterate that layering is very important. Keeping your body warm during activity prevents the risk of pulling a muscle. Muscles need to be naturally warm during exercise. However, if you don’t wear the proper attire, your muscles will never have the chance to warm up. Stop the shivering and grab a fleece!
Accessories- This is the last, and “least important” attire category. To round out the clothes needed for exercise, I figured I’d mention the need for hats (both baseball cap styles and ones to keep you warm), gloves, neck warmers, watches, and nutrition belts. Part of these “extras” are based on the climate you live in…
If you live somewhere warmer, a baseball hat and a water belt may be a good idea, where as someone in a cool climate would need a hat and gloves. Most sports stores carry all of these accessories and may be a good idea to invest in one or two of them, especially if you plan on exercising long-term.
Challenge for the day: Save your money that you usually would spend getting coffee and make some at home instead for one week. After a week, head to one of the sports stores and invest in one of the recommended exercise gear… it could be something as small as a new pair of socks! You don’t need to go crazy and spend a fortune, but every small investment towards better gear will make the time spent exercising that much more pleasant.