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Is This the Worst Material to Work Out In?

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The problem with cotton? If you’re sweating, everyone knows it. But what’s worse: pit stains or body odor? While polyester is the fabric of choice when creating moisture-wicking workout gear, it causes your clothes to stink more than cotton does after exercise, according to a recent study in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Researches collected cotton and polyester t-shirts from 26 volunteers after an intensive, hour-long spin class, and incubated the shirts for 28 hours before having them inspected by a trained odor panel (we didn’t know these existed, either). It turns out that bacteria that cause body odor grow better on polyester than cotton. While they hypothesize the stink has something to do with the nature of polyester surfaces, researchers are currently investigating exactly why polyester encourages bacteria growth.

The good news: You don’t have to throw away your polyester. Fresh sweat doesn’t have much odor because bacteria doesn't have the chance to grow, so changing into more breathable clothes immediately after your workout can help eliminate some of the stink. Need a little guidance in choosing the best gear for you? For our favorite picks for fall, check out this fashionable and functional workout gear.


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