Everything you need to know when choosing new activewear!

In the Healthy Mummy Activewear guide, we offer you tips and advice on how to find the right activewear for comfort and for your exercise activities.
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Whether you’ve got a wardrobe full of activewear or a couple of sports bras and a pair of leggings on high rotation, you’ll know that having the right gear makes getting your sweat on that little bit easier.

If you’re just back exercising after having a baby or just need an activewear wardrobe overhaul, it can be difficult to know what to buy and where to spend your hard-earned dollars.

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

How To Choose The Best Activewear

The women’s activewear essentials

The activewear market is a huge one. With an annual turnover of close to $2 billionlycra leggings (and the rest) are big business. If you’ve ever baulked at spending $200+ on a pair of tights, you’re not alone!

Fortunately, there are plenty of good quality budget activewear options on the market to save on, as well as a variety of options when you do need to splurge. You’ll be looking great and ready to exercise!

You don’t need to spend a fortune on activewear. While there are plenty of higher-priced options on the market, there’s also plenty of budget-friendly gear that does the job just as well.

What you choose to wear comes down to your workout of choice, personal taste/style and what you feel most comfortable in. There are however a few essentials required for almost any workout.

  • A good sports bra – well-fitted, supportive and comfortable.
  • Socks! You’d be surprised how many people forget socks and end up with blisters and seriously sore toes. Comfy socks are a necessity. They’ll keep your feet protected, soak up the sweat and help prevent blisters.
  • A well-fitted pair of sports shoes. Unless you’re swimming or doing yoga/pilates, you’ll need a well-fitted pair of sports shoes to ensure you don’t injure yourself. A good pair of sports shoes can mean the difference between a comfortable workout and one which leaves you in a world of pain. Even ladies whose exercise of choice is walking benefit from a decent pair of joggers.
  • A t-shirt or singlet – Choose something you feel comfortable in and lets air flow. Tops that are too tight will end up becoming uncomfortable and can cause chafing, which is not very pleasant.
  • Shorts, tights or trackies – While you may be tempted to choose something roomy, especially if you’re feeling a bit self-conscious about your body, pants that are too baggy can be very hot and heavy and not conducive to exercise.

What workout clothes to wear and when.

While everyone has different requirements for their activewear, here’s a round-up of what to look for when choosing what to wear for different activities.

1. Yoga/Pilates

Comfort and manoeuvrability is key for any yoga or pilates practice. The last thing you want is leggings that dig into your tummy or a too tight top that restricts movement.

Your best picks are well-fitted, comfortable leggings or lightweight yoga pants (high-waisted if you prefer to keep your midsection covered and like the extra support).

Plus, a sports crop or medium impact sports bra and a comfortable t-shirt or singlet.

2. HIIT or high-energy workouts

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT involves low to moderate-intensity intervals alternated with high-intensity intervals.

Translated? You’re going to get sweaty! The best activewear to look for if you’re a sweaty betty is one which whisks away moisture leaving you feeling cool and comfortable.

Look for words like ‘moisture wicking’ on the label. A good sports bra designed for high-impact activities is also key, as is a comfortable and supportive pair of shoes.

Want to try a HIIT workout at home? We’ve got you covered with the Healthy Mummy fat-burning HIIT workout.

3. Walking

Walking is one of the best ways to ease back into exercise, especially after having a baby.

If you’re feeling tender after birth, especially if you’ve had a c-section, a high-waisted style of leggings or pants can help you feel supported and comfortable, as can compression wear which is specifically designed to support your muscles.

A supportive sports crop or bra is also essential for breasts that may have increased (sometimes dramatically) in size and be sore from breastfeeding.

Activewear: Where To Save And Where To Splurge

The activewear market is a huge one. With an annual turnover of close to $2 billionlycra leggings (and the rest) are big business. If you’ve ever baulked at spending $200+ on a pair of tights, you’re not alone.

Fortunately, there are plenty of good quality budget activewear options on the market to save on, as well as a variety of options when you do need to splurge. You’ll be looking great and ready to exercise!

Items should you splurge on

There are a couple of areas where spending a little bit more can make a huge difference. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but choosing fit and support over price can be very important.

Sports bra

We mentioned it above, but a well-fitting and supportive sports bra is essential for any exerciser.  Most forms of exercise make your breast tissue move around, regardless of your cup size. Without the proper support, you can actually damage the ligaments that hold your breast tissue in place.

Once that tissue is stretched and damaged, it won’t ‘bounce back’ leaving you with the potential to develop stretch marks and sagging. A lack of support during exercise can also lead to back pain and general discomfort as the tissue shifts around.

The type of exercise you’re doing and personal preference will play a role in what you choose, but generally you want to choose a bra that matches your activity level and that you feel good in. Crop top-style sports bras are good for low-impact activities like yoga and pilates, while medium to high-impact activities require structured support.



Your shoes form the foundation of your workout. Ill-fitting, unsupportive sneakers can lead to a range of issues including muscle soreness, tendon damage and shin splints.

Investing in a good quality, a well-fitted shoe can help prevent damage, and make your workout far more enjoyable and comfortable.

It is recommended that you choose the type of shoe that corresponds with the activity you do most regularly –

  • Running shoes – Have inbuilt shock absorbers to cushion against impact.
  • Aerobic shoes – Are lightweight and shock absorbing to prevent fatigue and to cushion the ball of the foot which is put under the most pressure during aerobic-style workouts.
  • Walking shoes – Are designed with the specific body mechanics of walking in mind. They are constructed to be more flexible through the ball of the foot and have greater arch support to protect where the impact is heaviest.
  • Cross-training shoes –Are a mix of several different types of footwear. They may have the heel cushioning of a running shoe, the stability of a tennis shoe and the flexibility of an aerobic shoe.

You can pick up a good pair of shoes for under $150 if you shop around. Check online as well as in-store for the best prices.

Items you can save money on?

Everything else!

While good quality activewear is an investment in your health, it doesn’t have to be on the super expensive side of the equation. Major retailers like Kmart, Target and Big W all carry activewear basics with plenty of durability and even the addition of things like moisture-wicking fabric.


Look for well-fitting, opaque tights (so they aren’t see-through!) and a high waist can offer extra support and coverage.

Sports tops

Comfort is a priority. The last thing you want is sleeves that cut into your arms or rub against your underarms. Choose a breathable fabric that wicks moisture away from your body, especially if you’re planning on getting sweaty.

What to look for in a sports bra

Stats show one in five women are put off from exercising because they have trouble securing their breasts – they can move up and down as much as 19cm while you are being active.

In fact, 75% of women are said to be wearing the wrong sports bra.

One study conducted by the English Institute of Sport (EIS)  found 26 percent of elite athletes experience breast pain that affects their ability to perform and an improved sports bra fit helped alleviate breast pain for women.

What’s more, their research shows women change the way they run depending on the type of bra worn. So not only will a good sports bra provide you with vital support, it could also help you lose weight as well!

What to look for in a sports bra

Top tips on what to look for in a sports bra

1. Your sports bra should fit tighter than a regular bra but it shouldn’t restrict breathing. You should be able to fit two fingers between the straps and your shoulders.

2. The fabric of the cup should be smooth. Wrinkles in the fabric are often an indication that the cup is too big.

3. Your breasts should feel supported. Arguably, this is the most important fact – as your breasts need to be supported while you are exercising.

4. Your sports bra should work well for all workouts. If you feel supported doing a low-intensity workout, such as yoga, you should also feel supported if you are lifting weights or doing cardio.

5. Your breasts shouldn’t feel sweaty or hot. It’s important the fabric of your activewear bra is breathable and stretchy, you don’t want to feel sweaty working out.

6. Comfort is everything. If it’s not comfortable, then it’s not going to work for you. Make sure you feel supported and the fabric feels nice against your skin.

7. Look for a bra that has adjustable straps. Our bodies change – whether we put on or lose weight or are breastfeeding. Make sure there is no pinching or digging at the straps or the band, whether they cross at the back or are shaped more like a crop top.

8, Make sure the style works for you. Some sports bra styles may fit some people well, while they don’t work so great for others. Make sure you have full coverage of your breasts and you choose a style you feel confident in.

How to test a sports bra

  1. Try it on!
  2. Jump up and down and do a few jumping jacks or twist side to side to get an idea of how it feels while exercising.
  3. Make sure the straps are adjustable and stretchy.
  4. Cups: Do a similar test on the cups, checking they stretch by tugging the top and bottom of each cup. The cup should hold the whole breast with no spillage. If it doesn’t, choose the next larger cup size.
  5. Band and side panels: Slide a finger under the band between your breasts – you should not be able to pull it more than an inch from your chest. If the band creeps up, it’s too big so pick a smaller size.

10 sports bras mums recommend

A common discussion in the Healthy Mummy community is which sports bras are the best. Here are a few recommendations as tried and tested by you!

  • Active Truth
  • Kmart
  • Big W
  • Berlei Sports bras
  • Rockwear
  • Panache
  • Bras n things sports bra
  • City Chic
  • Exoticatheltica
  • Empress Athleticus

Women can be discouraged from exercising if they don’t feel comfortable in gym wear for women.

Did you know that the average Australian woman weighs 71.1kg and is a size 14-16?

Yep, and according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, 67% of women in Australia are considered ‘overweight’.

However, it seems bigger women may continue to struggle to get in shape – as a new study has found that many feel ‘put off’ from exercising due to the lack of options, there when it comes to plus size activewear or just women’s activewear.

New study finds women can be discouraged from exercising if they don’t feel comfortable in their activewear

Women feel discouraged from exercising due to a lack of options when it comes to gym wear for women

Researchers at Washington State University found that plus-sized women feel frustrated at the lack of selection they have when it comes to women’s activewear, and it might be hindering their activity.

If larger women find it a challenge to find plus-size activewear, they may resort to wearing menswear or just not feel up to working out at all. As clothing size increased, clothing choices were even more restricted.

“They feel like they have no other option,” said co-author Linda Bradley.“It’s that sense of defeat that’s a real problem.”

“Clothing is a powerful way to express one’s identity. Obese women are not provided with the exercise clothing they want and, as a result, they are less likely to exercise and more likely to feel compromised in their personal expression.”

New study finds women can be discouraged from exercising if they don’t feel comfortable in their activewear

Plus size activewear is often more expensive.

What’s more, plus-size clothing often costs more and is offered in fewer styles, colours and varieties.

Interestingly, stats show that 72% of Australians wear activewear when they aren’t actually being active, more for comfort.

And due to the pandemic, activewear accounted for 40% of online sales last year.

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