Recently, the New York Times published an article denouncing yoga pants. Titled “Why Yoga Pants Are Bad for Women,” the article detailed all the ways in which the popular, though pricey, black tights contribute to the idea that fitness is an everyday-all-the-day activity. I was surprised; I had assumed I’d be reading about how compression tights can actually be a health risk. I have good reason to think so, too, beyond the fact that I find yoga pants to often be annoyingly tight and uncomfortable. Here are five reasons why you should reconsider those high-priced workout leggings and grab yourself something looser.
1. Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are unpleasant and conjure up itchiness just thinking about them. Unfortunately, yoga pants are often designed to work both in the gym—and out—which makes it easier to transition between activities without changing. Yoga pants are often 7/8 or full length, meaning that you might actually be getting sweatier than if you were to simply wear shorts on a run or to the gym. The longer your skin, including your most sensitive parts, are making contact with damp, sweaty cloth, the higher your risk for yeast infections, as this article further explains.
As much as sweaty yoga pants can affect the health of your vagina, they can also affect your butt. Skin-to-fabric contact, especially when that fabric is compression-tight and sweaty, often spells disaster for your pores, including the ones on your butt. Humorously dubbed “buttne,” butt acne can occur when sweat sits on the body for most of the day, leading to a bacteria overgrowth that ultimately results in red, painful bumps.
3. Poor Digestion
Ever squeeze into a pair of too-tight pants and feel a stomachache coming on? Abdominal discomfort is often the result of wearing pants that are too small, especially at the waist. While typically more common in men, women can be at risk, especially when wearing form-fitting compression wear that sits high above the waist. Abdominal discomfort as caused by tight clothing can trigger digestive issues, particularly for those who suffer from heartburn, as this CBS article discusses.
4. Restricted Blood Flow
Have you ever been advised to wear loose fitting clothing on a flight? Surprisingly, this myth turns out to have much more than just an ounce of truth to it. Tight clothing, including yoga pants, can restrict blood flow, potentially causing deep vein thrombosis, a dangerous condition in which blood clots begin to form in veins. An article by Smarter Travel describes a mishap involving Lady Gaga, high stilettos, and clothing made of tape. Needless to say, Lady Gaga was advised to change into something a little looser to avoid swelling legs and more serious issues.
This scary-sounding term includes ingrown hair, the most common form of folliculitis you’re likely to experience. But the fact remains that yoga pants can contribute to another form of folliculitis, too. Have you ever had tiny red bumps after shaving? The same bumps can occur after wearing yoga pants for far longer than they’re intended to be worn. The lack of breathability and the potential for bacterial growth are likely culprits. Simply switching to looser-fitting clothing, or saving your yoga pants for just that—yoga—can make a big difference for your skin.
Yoga pants are fantastic—don’t get me wrong. That said, be conscious of how often and for how long, you’re wearing them. Looser fitting clothing, especially clothing made of materials such as linen, bamboo, hemp, and cotton, offer better breathability, no compression, and ease of movement. For an even healthier option, look for organic options that lack the pesticides and promote sustainability and fair-trade.