Comfortable activewear is an essential element of any exercise routine, as it can significantly impact both performance and comfort. The right piece with the right activewear material composition for your body can improve mobility, provide support, and help regulate body temperature during physical activity, while also reducing the risk of injury and preventing discomfort. Additionally, comfortable activewear can increase confidence and motivation, leading to more consistent and effective workouts. In this way, choosing the appropriate activewear for its material can be a key factor in achieving optimal exercise performance and ensuring a positive and enjoyable fitness experience.
There are many popular activewear brands available, each with its own unique style, focus, and target audience. Some of the more common activewear brands include Lululemon, Nike, Adidas, and Athleta, among others.
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How to determine a good activewear material and brand?
To determine if an activewear brand is good, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, quality is important – the clothes should be well-made and durable enough to withstand frequent use and washing. Additionally, the fit of the clothes should be comfortable and supportive, with enough flexibility to allow for movement during exercise.
Whilst the best way to determine if an activewear brand is good is to try it for yourself and see how it feels and performs during exercise, it may be helpful to know more about the common materials we see used in the make of such clothing and for its purpose. The materials used in activewear can be rather confusing, as there are many different options available and each has its own unique properties and benefits. Some common materials used in activewear include polyester, nylon, spandex, and cotton, among others.
Polyester in Activewear
Polyester is a synthetic material made from a combination of chemicals, including ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid.
The strong, durable, and lightweight material is popular in activewear because it is moisture-wicking, meaning that it can pull perspiration away from the skin and evaporate it quickly (quick-drying), helping to keep the body cool and dry during intensive workouts.
Additionally, polyester is known for its resilience, as such it can withstand frequent washing while retaining its shape and colour over time. This makes it a practical and long-lasting option material in activewear, which is typically subjected to regular wear and tear.
After using polyester clothing, some may comment that polyester is not as soft or comfortable as other materials, especially if it is not blended with other fiber like spandex or cotton. This is because polyester is a synthetic material and can sometimes feel rough or scratchy against the skin. It is also a material that an retain odors more easily than other materials, especially if it is not washed frequently.
Nylon in Activewear
Another synthetic material, Nylon, is commonly used in activewear, particularly for its durability and lightweight properties. Unlike polyester, nylon is more breathable and has a softer feel.
Below are some pros and cons of nylon in activewear:
|Durable||Not as breathable as other materials|
|Lightweight||Can retain moisture and become heavy|
|Moisture-wicking||Can generate static electricity|
|Quick-drying||Not as eco-friendly as natural materials|
|Soft and comfortable feel||Can pill or snag with frequent use or washing|
Spandex in Activewear
Spandex, also known as elastane or Lycra, is a stretchy material that provides excellent support and freedom of movement. It is often blended with other materials like polyester or nylon to create fabrics that are both stretchy, flexible and moisture-wicking.
|Highly stretchable and flexible||Not as breathable as other materials|
|Supports ease of movement during exercise||Can retain moisture and become heavy|
|Offers a snug and comfortable fit||Can lose its elasticity over time|
|Retains its shape well and is long-lasting||May cause skin irritation or allergies|
|Helps prevent chafing and irritation||Not as eco-friendly as natural fibers|
Activewear Material / Composition blend
Have you compared your activewear and both feels so different yet have the same few materials? The difference of the pieces is due to the percentage composition also known as, blend, of the product. This percentage of composition of different materials in a blend can affect the performance and properties of the resulting fabric, which can be important for exercises. For example:
- Flexibility and Stretch: Spandex is often blended with other fibers like cotton, nylon, or polyester to add stretch and flexibility. The higher the percentage of spandex, the more stretch and flexibility the fabric will have, which can be important for exercises that require a full range of motion.
- Moisture-Wicking and Breathability: Polyester and nylon are commonly blended with other fibers to add moisture-wicking and breathability properties to the fabric. The higher the percentage of polyester or nylon in the blend, the more moisture-wicking and breathable the fabric, which can be important for high-intensity exercises where sweat and heat build-up can be a concern.
- Durability and Longevity: Nylon is a durable material that is often blended with other fibers to add strength and longevity to the fabric. The higher the percentage of nylon in the blend, the more durable and long-lasting the fabric will be, which can be important for exercises that involve a lot of wear and tear.
As with any material, it is important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing activewear and consider factors such as fit, breathability for the different types of workouts.
Here are some common types of workouts and recommended activewear materials:
- For high-intensity cardio workouts, choose moisture-wicking and breathable materials, such as polyester or nylon. These materials help to keep you cool and dry by wicking sweat away from the body and allowing air to circulate.
- For yoga or Pilates, it is recommended to choose from a blend of cotton and spandex. This combination of natural and synthetic fibers provides both comfort and flexibility, allowing for a full range of movement without restriction.
- For weightlifting or resistance training, choose activewear made from durable and stretchy materials, like nylon or spandex. These materials help to support the muscles and provide a full range of motion, allowing for proper form and technique during exercises.
- For outdoor activities such as hiking or trail running, choose activewear made from moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials, polyester or nylon. These materials can help keep you comfortable and dry even in changing weather conditions.
Lastly, it is important to remember that the percentage of composition in a material blend can affect how well the fabric performs during exercise, and brands invest in tons of research to choose the right blend based on the specific needs of the activity / workout.
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