If you need fitness inspiration, science says start with your outfit

By Sara Angle
Updated: March 12, 2015
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It's chilly/dark/early/late... Time to lose the excuses, because all you need to get fired up for a workout is to put on your spandex and sneakers. "It's that easy," says Karen J. Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and author of Mind What You Wear: The Psychology of Fashion. Getting into activewear can launch you into exercise mode because clothing primes the brain to expect the forthcoming activity, Pine explains. The news gets even better: Your workout wardrobe can do more than just motivate you to move-it can also physically lead you to be more aware of your body, says Joshua Ian Davis, Ph.D., Director of Research at The NeuroLeadership Institute. "Formfitting workout clothes make you feel like your muscles are stronger," he says. "If clothes are comfortable, you'll have a greater sense of fluency about your movement."

That means what you wear to the gym can actually affect your performance. If you're in clothing you associate with running fast or lifting heavier weights, your brain signals you to embody those qualities, giving you a psychological push to work a little harder, Pine says. In one study, she found that when people wore a Superman t-shirt, they estimated themselves to be physically stronger than people who wore normal clothing, showing that we internalize characteristics associated with our attire. (See What's Trending With Tara: Printed Leggings).

Ultimately, you want to dress for your workout like you would a new job-comfortable, confident, and empowered.

What gear motivates you to get moving? Instagram your favorite workout style using #showusyouroutFIT and your 'gram could appear on our Instagram feed or online at shape.com! Follow @Shape_Magazine for fitness-fashion looks from Shape editors, trainers, and wellness pros. (Need more motivation? Read these 18 Inspirational Fitness Quotes To Motivate Every Aspect of Your Workout.)

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