Should you wear shapewear while you exercise?

Blame the rise of the gym selfie, or maybe just the Kardashians, but the word "lift" is increasingly as likely to appear on the tag of a pair of leggings as it is in your weights program.

Looking "good" is not only to be expected after working out, but during it, with activewear promising to contour behinds, and flatten tums. Proper shapewear brands have even moved into the market (for $116 one can purchase leggings made by Spanx).

While a high-waisted design and a thick spandex-based fabric is standard activewear fare, some brands go further, incorporating thick panels across the stomach, or a "booty scrunch" (ruching running down the centre of the buttocks and – gulp – separating the cheeks).

It is, in effect, shapewear for the gym. So, how does wearing it affect your workout?

Of course, super-tight workout wear which "holds you in" is not new. Compression garments – tight-fitted, synthetic activewear items (usually leggings and shorts) designed to "compress" the muscles and improve circulation – have been on the market for years.

Although research continues to suggest compression garments do not improve performance, there have been some smaller studies which have shown they can have a benefit post-workout, reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. (It should also be noted that most of these studies involved athletes wearing the garments for much longer than the average person would: sometimes for up to 72 hours after exercise.)

Personal trainer and director of Sydney's Flow Athletic fitness studio Ben Lucas says he wears standard compression gear (no booty scrunches here) when he works out, and personally finds it to be useful in aiding recovery.

Ultimately, he says you need to make sure your workout gear is helping you, well, work out.

"If you are feeling out of breath or too constricted for any reason you shouldn’t continue wearing whatever it is that you are wearing," Lucas says. "However that probably more comes down to the brand or what you personally feel comfortable in."

He says there is nothing wrong with choosing activewear which makes you feel confident standing in front of the mirror in class.

"People tend to feel better if they dress the part."

For Sydney yoga teacher Kirsten Scott, comfort and fit should be someone's main concern when choosing activewear. Although, this isn't necessarily incompatible with selecting a brand which claims to "contour" your body.

"The rule is to wear the tightest pair you can get on comfortably, that you’ll also be able to wear for a reasonable amount of time," she says. "This means seams in the right place [i.e. that run in line with the shape of your body], and firmness around the muscle, most importantly."

Scott adds that she actually encourages people to get around in their activewear after class, recommending someone wears compression tights for at least an hour after their workout to maximise their benefit.

Which brings us onto a slightly more sensitive topic: if women are spending lots of time wearing tight, sweaty pants made out of the thick synthetic materials this new brand of activewear as shapewear is known for, should we be concerned how that can impact vaginal health?

Probably not, according to Jean Hailes medical director and gynaecologist Dr Elizabeth Farrell, who says women shouldn't be too worried about wearing activewear after class, unless they are already experiencing a vaginal health issue.

"A yeast infection is made worse by garments that don't breathe or are too tight, but they don't cause the infection," she says.

So, yes, you should be able to drink a post 'lates latte in your lift leggings. Now, go forth and gym selfie.

Source: Read Full Article