Women: Underwear and Exercise

The combination of heat, sweat, and friction in your nether regions is not only uncomfortable, it can be unhealthy. Tight and nonbreathable clothing traps heat and moisture, which can encourage the growth of candida, and lead to an unbearable yeast infection. That's not the only thing you have to worry about. When bacteria travels from back to front, it increases your risk for contracting an uncomfortable urinary tract infection (UTI) as well. These can both be prevented if you pay special attention to what you wear below the waist.

There's a lot worth mentioning about your unmentionables, so keep reading to find out what you should be wearing when working out.

Fit: Dr. Keri Peterson, a Manhattan-based internal medicine specialist, says women should pay special attention to how underwear fits. Peterson, a panelist for the Share Care news service, says women's underwear that clings too tightly to the upper or lower abdomen could contribute to discomfort. High-rise panties that are too tight can compress the stomach and cause acid reflux into the esophagus, which leads to heartburn. Low-rise panties that are too tight can decrease blood circulation in the upper thigh area, resulting in irritation, tingling or numbness.

Air Supply: Wear nonconstrictive underwear for the general health of your reproductive organs. That region of the body needs adequate air circulation for the sake of proper hygiene and defense against infection and irritation. Research suggests that wearing tight underwear during exercises can increase body temperature and trap unwanted moisture and bacteria.

Cotton undies: Cotton is lightweight and breathable, which are both good qualities when it comes to your lady parts. Underwear made from all cotton are recommended for lighter types of exercise like yoga or strength training where you're not moving a ton. With something like running or biking, the cotton will absorb your sweat, become heavy, and shift around a lot, and could actually become irritating to your skin in that area.

Nylon Panties: These panties rank high in comfort, but the material does not wick away moisture. Instead, it traps moisture between your underwear and your body, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. This has previously been thought to nix nylon from the exercise panty equation, but new high-tech nylon/spandex blends are proving to have potential. These form-fitting fabrics do not chafe or retain moisture, thereby decreasing the chance of yeast infection

Thongs: This style prevents wedgies and panty lines, but it turns out it's not the best choice health-wise. Since it's tight fitting, stays close to your body, and slides back and forth as you exercise, it's perfectly designed to move fecal bacteria to your vagina, which can lead to UTIs or vaginal bacterial infections. For your workouts, I'd say thong be gone.

Boy shorts: This undies style offers fuller coverage so it may help keep your tushy warm during colder workouts. You may not find them as comfortable though since the crotch might ride up. Extra material down there isn't good for moisture management either, so if you prefer this style, make sure they fit well and stay put when you move.

Wicking undies: Some are made of synthetic material such as nylon or polyester, while others use nature's bounty, made of comfy merino wool. These panties are specifically made to move moisture away from you sensitive parts, so you can rest easy wearing these while sweating it out, especially on longer workouts.

Bottoms with built-in wicking underwear: If your exercise shorts or pants have a wicking panel sewn in, known as a gusseted crotch, then you may wonder why anyone needs to wear undies at all. Underwear isn't necessary, but it all comes down to personal preference. If you feel more comfortable having a layer between you and your bottoms for controlling sweat or odor, it won't hurt to wear undies; just make sure they're made of breathable cotton or are designed for wicking.

Going bare: If breathability is a top concern when it comes to your special area, then wearing nothing seems like the perfect option, right? The issue with this is that if your workout bottoms don't contain a wicking panel in the crotch, you'll end up with the same problems you would if you were wearing nonbreathable undies. So check your shorts or pants before going commando. If you have ever given birth vaginally, you might choose to abstain from this choice. Urinary incontinence is very common, and chances increase with the exertion of exercise. Moreover, normal cyclic vaginal discharge occurs at different times throughout the month. Underwear sanitarily catches anything that might make for an embarrassing situation.

Things To Consider When Choosing Workout Underwear

Materials: Original workout underwear was made primarily from cotton, but the best workout underwear for women is made from technical synthetic fabrics. These fabrics include materials such as polyester, nylon, Spandex and Elastane. Some of the best bottoms, for example, are made with 93 percent nylon and 7 percent Elastane for a compression form-fitting design that doesn't restrict movement during a workout.

Features: The two major benefits from the best workout underwear for women include the ability to allow your skin to breathe with a seamless design. The best bottoms, for example, feature flat-locked seams that reduce chafing while the technical microfibers wick moisture away from the skin while sweating during the workout. These technical fabrics also contain antimicrobial properties to reduce the amount of odor in the clothing.

Considerations: Major considerations for choosing the best workout underwear include your individual body type and the intended type of exercise. Running, for example, requires slightly different underwear designs than swimming. Consider specific features such as the waistband on the bottoms and any features that could cause chafing. The best workout underwear is designed for a snug fit, making it essential to choose the right size and design based on your body type. Getting professionally fitted for a sports bra can help ensure you purchase the appropriate size.

Aside from what you wear down there, the number one way to prevent infections is to remove your sweaty clothes as soon as your workout is complete, and take a shower ASAP. Use warm water and a mild soap, and refrain from using douches, scented powders, or sprays.


FitSugar.com - Underwear and Exercise Health Risks If You Wear or Go Bare:

LiveStrong.com - Is Wearing Tight Underwear Healthy?

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LiveStrong.com - The Best Workout Underwear for Women: