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Certain gym short features, such as moisture-wicking properties and breathable fabrics, may help regulate body temperature and potentially improve performance.

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Comfort, durability, and range of movement are other important factors to consider when choosing gym shorts.

This article explores the health benefits and downsides of wearing gym shorts, some gym short options, and key features to look for when buying them.

There are many factors to consider before purchasing gym shorts, and they can affect performance, comfort, and functionality.

  • Comfort: Look for shorts that feel loose enough to allow free range of movement, with features that prevent chafing, such as flat seams.
  • Breathability: Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics with ventilation panels to allow sweat to evaporate and escape more easily.
  • Moisture-wicking properties: Look for materials or technology that wick moisture to draw away sweat and keep shorts feeling drier.
  • Functionality: People may want to look for gym shorts with functions specific to the workout or sport they participate in the most. Alternatively, they can purchase them to suit a variety of exercises.
  • Built-in liners: According to anecdotal reports by online reviewers, built-in liners in gym shorts provide extra comfort and support. However, some people may prefer no lining for extra breathability.
  • Pockets: If a person exercises outside often and wishes to carry items, such as keys or phones, they should consider zipped or inner pockets to keep these valuables safe.
  • Length: People can choose from a range of lengths to suit their preferences and type of exercise.
  • Sustainability: Consider shorts featuring recycled or sustainable materials or buy from companies with sustainable manufacturing policies.

Here are six gym shorts to help someone level up their exercise routine.

Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Under Armour Raid 2.0 Shorts

Best for a longer short

According to the product website, features of the Under Armour 2.0 Shorts include:

  • a loose, streamlined fit
  • availability in regular or tall fit
  • 90% polyester, 10% elastane design
  • quick-drying, moisture-wicking, lightweight fabric
  • four-way stretch material
  • anti-odor technology
  • elastic waist with drawstring
  • mesh back panel for extra ventilation

This product is available in several styles:

  • black and white
  • gray and black
  • blue and grey
  • red and black styles

At the time of publishing, the Under Armour Raid 2.0 Shorts cost $30.

Nike Flex Stride Shorts

Best for extra pockets

According to the product website, features of the Nike Flex Stride Shorts include:

  • lightweight material
  • rear ventilation for breathability
  • zipped back pocket and side pockets
  • brief liner with inner pocket
  • narrow waistband with drawstring
  • flexible stretch fabric for movement
  • drying technology to wick moisture
  • reflective elements
  • minimum 50% recycled polyester material

These shorts are available in twelve different colors, including black, gray, red, green, and orange.

At the time of publishing, the Nike Flex Stride Shorts cost $50.

Lululemon Pace Breaker Linerless 7-inch Short

Best for different length options

According to the product website, the Lululemon Pace Breaker 7-inch (in) shorts feature:

  • lightweight fabric
  • four-way stretch fabric
  • moisture-wicking
  • a Lycra, polyester, and elastane design
  • a streamlined fit
  • zipped pockets
  • five size options and three length options

Lululemon also offers the Pace Breaker shorts with a liner.

These shorts come in 15 different colors, including black, mint, red, and camo.

At the time of publishing, the Lululemon Pace Breaker Linerless 7-in Shorts cost $68.

Vuori Banks Short

Best for shorts with recycled material

According to the product website, features of the Vuori Banks Short include:

  • quick-drying material
  • a four-way stretch
  • anti-odor technology
  • construction using recycled plastic bottles
  • an elastic waistband with drawstring
  • zipped mesh pockets
  • scalloped leg edges
  • six size options

These shorts are available in 12 color options, including azure, red, orange, and camo.

At the time of publishing, the Viori Banks Shorts cost $68.

Designed 2 Move 3-Stripes Shorts by Adidas

Best for easy care

Features of the Designed 2 Move 3-Stripes Shorts reportedly include:

  • moisture-wicking material
  • allows for free range of movement
  • machine washable on cold
  • regular fit
  • elastic waist with drawstring
  • 100% polyester

These shorts are available in 11 colors, including black, navy, green, and red.

At the time of publishing, the Designed 2 Move 3-Stripes Shorts by Adidas cost $30.

Hudson 2.5-in Shorts by Outdoor Voices

Best for comfort

These Hudson Shorts from Outdoor Voices feature:

  • a lightweight fabric
  • quick-drying material
  • 86% recycled polyester and 14% Spandex design
  • a wide knit waistband for comfort
  • a built-in brief liner
  • machine washable on cold

These shorts are available in 12 colors, including black, green, orange, and tie dye.

At the time of publishing, the Outdoor Voices Hudson 2.5-in Shorts cost $58.

Wearing gym shorts may offer several health benefits, although they may hinder performance in some people.

Pros

Professional sports clothing with moisture-wicking properties may help improve performance by removing sweat, controlling body temperature, and increasing exercise duration.

The researchers also found that a reduction in skin temperature resulted in a positive physiological response in athletes.

Wearing sportswear may also have a psychological effect. A 2015 study refers to the term “enclothed cognition,” which describes how wearing certain clothes or accessories can affect how people behave.

Following this idea of enclothed cognition, it is possible that wearing certain sportswear may help people perform better or feel more motivated. However, there is no study to support this conclusively, and scientists need to carry out more research in this area.

Cons

Some studies show that wearing sportswear focusing more on aesthetics than functionality may negatively affect motor performance.

A 2020 study of 80 females aged 18–35 years compared the athletic performance of participants who wore tight, revealing sportswear with the performance of those wearing loose, concealing sportswear.

The group wearing loose, concealing sportswear had better performance results than the participants wearing tight, revealing clothing when carrying out motor tasks.

The researchers suggest that revealing clothing may lead a person to have a greater awareness of their body, which may draw cognitive resources away from motor tasks.

Therefore, if an individual wishes to wear gym shorts, they may want to choose a pair they do not consider to be revealing. Or they could pair them with a loose shirt or other loose clothing.

However, this study is not conclusive about the effects of gym shorts on performance. Therefore, more studies are necessary to investigate the relationship between apparel, including gym shorts, and sports performance.

There are alternatives to gym shorts, including a wide range of sports apparel. These include:

  • Leggings: People may wish to wear leggings underneath shorts or on their own. Certain features make them suitable for a variety of activities. For example, compression leggings may help with faster recovery after exercise.
  • Sports trousers: Individuals can choose from a wide range of options, including breathable, lightweight options or thicker, thermal variants, depending on the temperatures they experience while exercising.
  • Cycling shorts: These specifically aim to offer greater support, padding, and comfort for cycling.
  • Compression shorts: Compression shorts apply extra pressure to the upper leg area, which may help reduce muscle pain, damage, and inflammation.

Gym shorts with lightweight, breathable fabrics and moisture-wicking properties can help keep the body cool during exercise. This may have a positive effect on athletic performance.

A person can also consider extra features, such as zipped pockets, anti-odor technology, length, and high-stretch materials, depending on their preferred types of physical activity.