Will Fancy Workout Clothes Make You Want to Exercise?

I was doing some research for another article and came across a really interesting study: According to researchers at Northwestern University, the clothes you wear really do impact your behavior.

Clothes can influence psyche

In the study, the researchers found that when subjects were given a doctor’s lab coat to wear, they showed sustained attention when compared to the subjects who were told they were wearing a painter’s coat, or a coat that was given no name or meaning.

Basically, the researchers proposed that the clothes we wear influence the wearers’ psychological processes. They call it "enclothed cognition." They also suggest it’s the value and symbolism that the person wearing the clothes places on them that’s important (you think doctors are smart and pay attention, so when you’re wearing a doctor’s lab coat you feel a boost in your own abilities).

New gym clothes may motivate you to exercise

I think this stood out to me because I’ve seen this at work when it comes to workout clothes, in both my own and my friends’ lives. For instance, one of my friends specifically went out and got some new exercise clothes because she “didn’t want having gross workout clothes” to keep her from exercising. She needed that psychological boost.

I’ll admit to sometimes having the same problem. I have felt like my workout shirts were too smelly or old looking, or that my workout pants were out of style, and not wanted to wear them. You know what solved that problem? Buying new clothes that made me feel great.

Think about how good it feels to have a new outfit that you feel great in. Now think about how that would feel in the realm of workout clothes. A fancy pair of sneakers, matching workout clothes that are flattering and fit well. There’s just something about that that's motivating, you know?

Tips to get started

Here are some ways to make this work for you:

  • If you’re reluctant to spend money on something you’re not sure you’ll use, start cheap. Department stores often have their own brand of exercise clothes that look nice but may not perform as well as more expensive brands (Lululemon, I’m looking at you). Performance doesn’t matter all that much to you if you’re just starting out, though, so get yourself something that fits comfortably and makes you feel confident, and just buy one set of clothes. You can go up from there.
  • If you’re really on a budget, just try getting one new piece. If your sneakers are in tatters, that’s probably the place to start.
  • If your budget is unlimited, make sure you buy clothes for what you actually want to do. If you’re a woman, spend money on a good sports bra, because that will make all the difference. Don’t buy shorts or tank tops if your goal is to be going outside for winter walks or runs. Get what will actually help you work out.
  • Give it a try before you dismiss it. Wear clothes that make you feel like you know what you’re doing, like going to the gym or taking a class or playing a sport is no big deal. Wear clothes that make you feel confident. Wear clothes that make you feel like you got this.

Dressing for the part is not only fun, but it may actually make a difference in your exercise routine.

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