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Do Your Workout Clothes Actually Affect Your Performance?

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You've heard the phrase "dress for success" before, but while it's a good motto to have professionally, does it also apply to the world of fitness? Short answer: Yes.

There's actually a reason (other than simply looking good) that fancy workout tanks, leggings, and sneakers have become the standard at the gym and in the studio. So stop feeling guilty and stuff that buyer's remorse back in the shopping bag—those printed leggings are well worth your hard-earned cash. Here's why.

They give your brain a boost

When you threw on that fun graphic tee and cut-out leggings you might have experienced something the experts are calling " enclothed cognition," which refers to a sort of mental shift you experience when you wear certain clothes. So, if you wear a fun new crop top-sports bra hybrid, you might, in turn, feel more "fun" and happy yourself. One study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that clothing influences behavior and attitudes because it carries a symbolic meaning. So, what you wear is actually subconsciously changing how you act.

Dr. Jonathan Fader, sports psychologist for the New York Mets, says these findings totally hold-up in real life. "When you put on new fitness gear, you begin to get into character like an actor putting on a costume for a performance," says Fader. "As a result, you expect to have a better performance, making you more mentally prepared for the task."

Basically, when you wear cute workout wear, not only are you more inclined to actually be active, but Fader says those tank tops and racer-backs will also make you feel more confident in your abilities, which could lead to an improved focus, motivation, and gains.

They up the intimidation factor

Still skeptical on the physiological power behind your outfit? Leah Lagos, PsyD, BCB, clinical and sports psychologist, says this phenomenon goes further than just any regular gym session—professional athletes can experience it as well. "An athlete may gain a perceived psychological edge on his opponents by wearing certain outfits or designs," says Lagos. "Research has shown that professional sports teams wearing black uniforms are more aggressive than sports teams wearing non-black uniforms."

If you're not a fan of all black (or don't plan to hit the football field anytime soon), Fader says that "some studies even suggest that teams that wear the color red have an advantage against teams that wear blue."

They can improve your performance

While what you wear to the gym may give you the mental boost needed to push through a tough workout, you can't forget the power a great pair of running shoes can have on your half-marathon training, or how crucial it is to have real-deal bike shorts for long rides. What you wear directly affects your performance.

And you wouldn't wear the same running shoes on a hike, right? Proper hiking boots, from brands such as Merrell, offer additional traction and an air cushion within the heel to absorb shock and add stability, allowing you to get the most out of your uphill climb by giving you the grip needed to tackle longer and harder trails.

They prevent injuries and offer protection

Live in Seattle? Warm, insulated fabrics are important to protecting your body during cold morning runs. Call Miami home? You're going to want breathable, sweat-wicking material to keep the surface of your skin cool and dry.

What's more, having the correct size in your running shoes can prevent blisters, shin splints, and foot or ankle injuries. Considering how an injury can put your workouts on a substantial hiatus, it's well worth investing in clothes, shoes, and gear that will help lower your risk of getting hurt. And yeah, you might as well make them fashionable AF.

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