Have you ever felt that the hardest part of working out is actually putting your gym gear on? Turns out there’s a psychological reason for that!
If 2002 was the year of ULTRA low-cut jeans (never forget), then 2020 was the year of activewear. It’s unsurprising a global pandemic forcing us to work from home would have an impact on the way we dress, opting for comfort above all else – which for most of us meant chucking on a good pair of stretchy leggings.
Interestingly, this choice in clothing influenced our behaviour too, in what’s known in psychology as ‘enclothed cognition’.
“What we wear impacts on our mood, choices, behaviour and attitudes… These processes include our own attitudes towards ourselves and subsequent behaviour. It also relates to how other people relate to us.” says Sarah McMahon, psychologist and director at BodyMatters Australasia.
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“Specifically, the more you like your appearance and feel good in certain clothes, the more likely you will feel good more generally.”
It stands to reason, then, that activewear would influence our desire to be healthier.
Indeed, in a survey sponsored by Chobani Australia of more than 1,200 Aussies during the height of the pandemic, 30 percent reported they were more inclined to eat healthier foods when wearing activewear.
It also makes sense as to why it’s a common notion that actually getting dressed for the gym or a workout is the hardest part.
“Exercising can be riddled with layers of negative feelings such as guilt. Many people feel that they go to the gym to look good and want to look good at the gym,” says McMahon.
“The process of operating outside our body and looking at ourselves leads us to self-surveillance, which is generally very unhelpful and does not make us feel good about ourselves.”
And according to this study, this is widespread. A significant 75 percent of women under 40 stated that looking good in their activewear is an extremely or very important factor when deciding what to buy.
Interestingly, what we wear can affect us negatively as well, says McMahon, citing wearing pyjamas while working at home, for example, can lead to poor mental health.
“This concept of enclothed cognition is true if you are ‘dressing up’ or ‘dressing down’,” she says.
“Bearing in mind that what we wear impacts on our behaviour, we can easily imagine how pyjama-wearing may be associated with working from bed, not leaving the house, or not showering. Behaviours that are frequently associated with depression.”
Chobani is giving away 25,000 pieces of activewear. Head to the site for more details.