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Clothes and Equipment
Author: Cleaves M. Bennett MD FACP
Monday, January 07, 2008


As we've seen, aerobic exercise is exercise that generates heat—and, because it does, I'd like to talk a little about what clothes to wear while you're exercising.

Don't wear plastic pants. I know a lot of stores sell plastic pants with the idea that they will promote weight loss. But it doesn't work that way. Your body will be generating heat if you're exercising the way you should—and it needs an opportunity to lose some of that heat. If you get too hot, you'd better take some of your clothing off and let the heat out. And be sure to drink enough fluids, especially if it's dry and hot outside. You can easily underestimate your body fluid loss and become dehydrated.

If it's cold outside you should dress warmly—but not as warmly as you'd dress if you were just taking a casual stroll or standing around downtown doing some window-shopping. Wear enough clothes so you feel warm after you've run or walked for five or ten minutes at your THR, but not so much that you're sweating profusely. And be wary of frostbite—cover your ears, wear gloves, and pay special attention to your face.

Otherwise, what you wear is pretty much up to you. But wear clothes that are comfortable and that give you plenty of room to stretch. You can wear your favorite old baggy pants—or the latest sporting fashion. It's your choice.

Lots of joggers and skaters and bikers are wearing those little personal stereos now—the music really energizes them and may make the whole experience more fun. But be warned about the dangers of being out on the street and not being able to hear what's going on around you—dogs, cars, ambulances, muggers, whatever. Some communities have actually banned these things, as a result of serious or fatal accidents involving cars and joggers.


The most important exercise item of all is your shoes. If you're walking or jogging or running, you want to make sure you have good shoes. Spend a little time, make sure the shoes you buy are comfortable and that they fit.

The technology of shoe design has advanced tremendously over the years. There are millions of joggers in America, and there's a whole industry set up to serve them. Most communities now have podiatrists who specialize in sports medicine, and there are stores that sell jogging shoes everywhere.

Runner's World magazine devotes a whole issue to shoes every year and they have a very informative website. They tell you just about everything you might want to know about shoes—what to look for, what special characteristics of shoes are appropriate for any particular problems you might have, how to buy shoes that are right for you, and what the world's top runners wear.

If you're going to be out walking, jogging or running, get yourself some good shoes. The good ones cost about seventy to eighty dollars and many are quite a bit more than $100. Good shoes are amazingly lightweight. They protect the foot and support the ankle. If you wear good shoes you're much less likely to injure yourself. Good shoes are really good for your feet and they make the whole walking or running experience much more pleasurable. If you have a tendency toward excessive pronation (flattening of the arch under the pressure of the foot striking the ground) there a many, many shoes designed to ameliorate that problem for a little extra expense.

In fact there's only one problem: color. Running shoes often seem to come in the most outlandish colors. So you may need to be resigned to wearing purple and orange shoes. And good luck finding matching socks!

Apart from that good shoes make good friends. Spend a little time, shop around and get yourself some good shoes.

Additonal Articles
Warming Up
Author: Cleaves M. Bennett MD FACP
Category: Exercise
Warming up means doing a slower, quieter version of the type of exercise you've chosen. For example, if your exercise prescription is for walking briskly for thirty minutes, you should start out by walking slowly. Read More
How often should I exercise
Author: Cleaves M. Bennett MD FACP
Category: Exercise
You probably need to exercise a minimum of three times a week, and ideally five times a week, with a lower level of exercise (some casual walking, perhaps) on the sixth day. And then it's important to get one day of rest, to allow your muscles, your bones, and your joints to heal up and toughen up. Read More