9 Workout Clothes You Need as You Get Older
Make sure you have these staples in your closet before your next run or workout class.
It's just a fact of life that as we get older, certain things become more challenging. For many of us, that feels especially true when it comes to working out, which can be tougher with aging muscles and joints. Because of this, we want to be as comfortable as possible when exercising, and that starts with the workout clothes we wear.
"Performance fabrics have come a long way in the past 20 years. From moisture-wicking to quick-drying features, activewear has never been more high-performance, comfy, or chic. Even stretchability has improved with better recovery, staying power, and breathability, but without [being] restricting. That's the good news," certified image stylist Elizabeth Kosich, founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling, tells Best Life.
She continues, "The bad news is that the market is flooded with great products, making it hard to choose. The best approach is building a mini activewear capsule of basics that deliver on coverage, support, and superior construction—all top requirements [as you age]."
Looking to refresh your workout wardrobe? Read on for nine pieces you need as you get older.
A reliable, supportive sports bra
We always want to make sure "the girls" are supported, whether it's with underwire for work or spandex for cycling. But with age, it's that much more important to invest in proper sports bras for your workouts.
"A sports bra is the number one item to ensure you have fitting and supporting you correctly," Rachel MacPherson, Certified Strength and Conditional Specialist (CSCS), CPT, women's health coach, and pain-free performance specialist tells Best Life. "As you age, your tissues change, and so do your body shape and size. Getting fitted properly is vital to ensure a correct fit for a sports bra."
A properly fitting sports bra also helps avoid painful chafing, she says.
"Another issue is skin and connective tissue changes; chafing and sore spots occur where your bra, straps, and bands touch the skin," MacPherson explains. "For this reason, it's imperative to look for a bra that fits well and is very comfortable, ideally without any rough seams or fabrics that irritate your skin."
You should also pick one or several that provide the right support for your workouts (e.g. yoga versus jogging), according to Chrisi Moutopoulos, personal training regional manager at GYMGUYZ. "Thinner straps mean less support, thicker straps mean more support," she adds.
Kosich also notes the importance of coverage, depending on how much décolletage you're comfortable showing.
"Coverage is important too, so [you can] shop sports bra tanks that cover and support the entire torso. Make sure it's lightweight but with with plenty of stretch to hold, mold, lift, and stabilize," she says. "If your facial features are round, shop scoop or crewnecks. If you're more angled, go for v-necks."
A new pair of sneakers
Another essential is a solid pair of sneakers—and if you've been using the same pair for some time now, it's time for an upgrade.
"Solid sneakers that haven't been worn for years [are important]," Gina Newton, certified personal trainer and holistic body coach, tells Best Life. "When I train, I can't help to look at the sneakers my clients are wearing. Too often, clients are wearing non-supportive sneakers or sneakers that they have been using for years. I can tell right away when the sneaker is no longer providing the needed support."
According to MacPherson, putting on the right shoe helps you prevent injury—which you're more vulnerable to with age—and prevent current issues from getting worse.
If you have plantar fasciitis, for example, she recommends looking for shoes that can provide pain relief and ankle support, while also having a deep enough heel cup to prevent pain from returning.
"Your joints can become more vulnerable to injuries and pain as you age," she explains. "So, finding supportive shoes that address any current or potential foot issues you may have is essential."
Newton recommends the Hoka brand: "They are like walking on pillows and super supportive," she says.
A second pair of sneakers—if you need them
The "right" sneakers will also depend on the type of activity you're doing, experts say. If you like to mix-up your workouts and intensity, you likely need more than one pair to ensure your feet and joints have the support they need.
For weight lifting, you'll want something flatter but still supportive, Moutopoulos says, but for high-impact exercises like running, you'll want sneakers with a "bouncier and thicker foot bed."
Yoga pants you feel comfortable in
As we get older, the idea of tighter-fitting clothing can be intimidating, but there's no reason to shy away from it. Even better, because yoga pants are so mainstream, you don't have to limit them to the gym or studio.
"Today's yoga pant is the new everything pant. It's perfect for any kind of light exercise, plus it transitions into athleisure wear with ease," Kosich says. "Shop styles that hug but with a pant leg that flares so it's easy to move in, non-binding, and able to transition into ready-to-wear effortlessly. Wear it to pilates, then errands, then throw on a graphic tee, blazer, and handbag for lunch with the girls."
RELATED: 6 Best Walking Workouts for Weight Loss.
Stylists and trainers stress the need for workout clothes that help regulate your body temperature, particularly sweat-wicking options that "promote evaporation of sweat," Lindsay Tullis, NBC-HWC, health coach at Mighty Health, says.
"When working out, it's great to have loose, breathable clothing that is also sweat-wicking to keep you dry. This is more true for outdoor workouts but a great thing to keep in mind for indoor workouts, too," Tullis adds.
Even better, MacPherson says sweat-wicking fabric is another way to prevent skin irritation.
"Choosing clothing that wicks sweat away and prevents any chafing from loose skin or the folds and fluffy areas that can occur with aging will help keep your skin healthy and free of sore spots, rashes, or other discomforts," she says. "Avoid clothing that absorbs sweat, such as cotton, unless combined with a moisture-wicking material."
A new pair of leggings
Leggings are synonymous with workout wear these days. But if you do have a favorite pair, consider how long they've been your go-to option.
"Everyone has leggings, but no one replaces them often enough," Kosich explains. "Refresh this season with a new pair with super sculpt technology that's high-compression, high-waisted, and with pockets. When you find the perfect pair, consider buying two—one cropped at the ankle, the other cropped at the knee."
According to Moutopoulos, you can look for options in spandex and lycra, but definitely look for ones that have cotton in the crotch area.
In general, MacPherson said that some women benefit from compression workout clothing. "It has limited but potential benefits for relieving muscle soreness during prolonged endurance exercise," she says.
If you don't think this is a necessity for your routine, the one thing you might want to have on hand is a pair of compression socks.
"Compression socks can also be helpful for people with circulation issues such as diabetes, but it's best to speak to your doctor before using them," MacPherson cautions.
A matching tracksuit
Don't knock it until you try it: A matching tracksuit can be chic, comfy, and classy as you age, Kosich says.
"Exercise gets lighter as we get older, making the classic tracksuit a foundational anchor to any activewear capsule. And why not look polished when you're getting your steps in? Shop smart-looking sets in your most serviceable dark neutral and versatile styles that can be dressed up or dressed down," she says.
You don't have to wear them together at all times, either.
"Wear the set for evening walks, the track jacket with yoga pants, or the track pants over a unitard," Kosich suggests. "The classic tracksuit's 'wear anywhere' versatility is unmatched!"
A good winter jacket
This one will depend on where you live, but if you're located somewhere where the temperatures drop drastically in the winter months, invest in a coat specifically for your workouts.
"Just because it is cold, that doesn't mean you should stay indoors," Newton says. "There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Get outdoors year-round!"
Not sold on the idea of walking or running outdoors in winter? A good jacket is still worth it. Grab one that you only wear to and from the gym. That way, you won't have to worry about sweating in your everyday coat—and even better, active-specific options are typically easier to wash at home.
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