Activewear for Seniors

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Getting inspired to exercise is difficult for any age. But exercise is essential for older adults if they want to maintain an independent and robust lifestyle. Not only have the available activities changed, but so too have the choices for activewear for seniors changed. As more older adults are choosing active lifestyles to increase balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility, the demand for more options for exercise clothes for seniors has increased. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 20 percent of the total population will be over 65 by 2030. Let’s take a look at what to consider wearing as you begin a new exercise program.

Comfort is Key

Whether working out in front of the TV or joining a group activity, comfortable clothing will motivate you to continue your exercise routine. Safety is also an essential factor to consider in what to wear. As we age, our bodies change, and it is necessary to consider those changes when choosing activewear.

Do the clothes you wear cause you to overheat, which is more common in seniors? How easy are those clothes to get into and remove at the end of your exercise routine? Consider if the shoes you are wearing are appropriate for the type of activity you are doing. The right sportswear for seniors should be comfortable, light, and breathable to prevent sweating.

For comfort and safety and to prevent injuries, here are some key factors to consider when choosing workout clothes for seniors.

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Athletic Shoes

While shoes are the most critical part of activewear, no one style would answer the question, ‘What do seniors wear to the gym?’ The kind of athletic shoes to wear depends on your exercise routine, your feet, and how you move. Since every foot is different, no one style is best for everyone. This is why it is important not to buy exercise shoes off the internet. Instead, visit a store in person, try different shoes, and walk around to find the most comfortable pair. Don’t buy the first pair you try on. 

The right shoe fits well and provides good support. It needs to absorb heavy blows and not allow the ankle to rotate or to increase pressure on the knees and joints, especially during aerobic classes. Choose a pair with flat, non-skid soles, good heel support, and enough room for your toes.

Different types of exercise will require different kinds of shoes. For instance, running and walking shoes are constructed with elevated midsoles that are good for straight-line motion but not for lateral movements that might cause an ankle sprain. Spend time selecting the best shoe and tell the store clerk what kind of activity you are buying them for so they can help you make the best choice.

Once you buy your new shoes, break them in slowly to prevent blisters or sore spots and replace them when they wear out. You’ll know you need a new pair if your feet are tired or your shins, knees, or hips ache after activity.

For more information about athletic shoes, go to Best workout shoes.


Many seniors are used to wearing cotton socks, but cotton is no longer the material of choice for workout socks. The best fibers, like nanofibers and spandex, breathe, keep the feet dry, and prevent them from odor. Look for socks with suitable arch supports, reinforced heel and toe, smooth toe seams, and a good shock absorber to protect the ankle from injuries.


You may pay a little more for something other than sweats and a cotton tee shirt, but putting more thought into what to wear for exercising will be worth the time. Wearing proper clothing during exercise will help prevent injuries and overheating and keep you comfortable during your workouts.

Compression wear is popular with high-performance athletes and the recommended gymwear for over 50s. This clothing is generally made from polyester or nylon fabrics with pores that allow the air to flow and wick moisture away from your skin so that you can dry faster. It promotes blood flow to the heart and oxygen to working muscles. This can minimize fatigue and soreness by preventing lactic acid build-up.

Wearing higher-quality lightweight activewear can also prevent skin irritation which may cause rashes or itching. Clothing that fits like a second skin will be more comfortable and allow more freedom of movement.

All workout clothing should breathe, absorb moisture, and keep you cool during your exercise routine. Cotton may absorb moisture, but it doesn’t allow that moisture to evaporate, leaving a person chilled and damp. This dampness can provide the best environment for bacteria and fungi to grow. So if you still choose cotton fabric, remember to wash and dry your clothes after every workout.

For those who like to exercise outside in colder weather, wear layers of clothing so that some can be removed as your body heats up.


Wearing the correct top is one of the most important things you can do. Tops with venting and breathable panels will prevent overheating. Synthetic sweat-wicking fabrics are best, such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, or spandex. If you prefer a top with a looser fit, those with raglan sleeves where the sleeve extends up to the shirt collar can also provide more freedom of movement. Personal preference can be used in choosing long or short-sleeved tops. Pick something that makes you feel good and look good!

Pants and Leggings

Workout pants should be the appropriate length for your height. Pants that are too long could bunch up around your legs or be easy to step on and cause you to trip. Pants that are too short may leave you feeling self-conscious.

If leggings are preferred, the most comfortable styles are those with ultra-high-waists and a large waistband at the top that prevents them from sliding down. No one wants to have to keep pulling up their leggings during an exercise routine. They will also not cause discomfort by cutting into your abdomen.  

If comfort is the most important factor, invest in ‘weightless’ or ‘’soft’ leggings made from Nulu fabric; see Lululemon. If support and sweat prevention are top priorities, choose the more breathable textiles such as spandex, polyester, or nylon. Fleece-lined leggings are also available for those colder days when you still want to walk or get some outdoor exercise.

Spandex is considered the best for shorts as a light material that enables easy movement while maintaining structural integrity. It is often used for underwear, and its flexibility makes it perfect for yoga, Pilates, and other stretching exercises. You can wear looser pants for these activities if the fabric is still stretchy and not tight enough to impede blood flow.

Sports Bras

Older women who exercise should wear a supportive sports bra due to the loss of elasticity as they age. Fortunately, there are many different styles available from which to choose. Look for maximum comfort and choose a sports bra that is suitable for the level of activity you will be doing, be it high impact (group exercise classes), medium (walking), or low impact (yoga or stretching classes).

Consider also your levels of mobility in putting on or taking off a sports bra.  Michael E. Rogers, C.S.C.S., Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Aging at Wichita State University, recommends SHEFIT sports bras, Wanayou Zip Front Sports Bra, and DSG Seamless Front Zip Sports Bras, all of which are designed for easy wearing. He also suggests looking for sports bras with thick, adjustable straps for the best support.


Whether swimming laps or joining a water aerobics class, you’ll want a comfortable swimsuit. A two-piece swimsuit may be just the thing since it is more flexible than those one-piece suits you wore when you were younger. You can buy a different size for your top and bottom so that it won’t ride up, keeping you covered as you reach for that beach ball. For those with arthritis and mobility issues, consider STEPIN2NOW, a collection of swimsuits designed and tested for women with arthritis and mobility issues.

The Bottom Line

No matter your choice of exercise, the bottom line is that if you are not comfortable in your workout clothes, you will not exercise as often. Exercise has many advantages, including social engagement and health benefits, and there is no reason not to look and feel your best as you do.

Choose a variety of routines to make life more enjoyable. You won’t regret it and may begin to look forward to these activities as you make them a part of your daily life. Most of the activewear suggested here can be used for multiple activities and fit into your budget. On your mark, get set, go and have fun!


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