Ladies, when it's time to suit up and work out, you'll need a sports bra that is comfortable, won't chafe, and protects your breasts from the wear and tear of (even a little) bouncing, which can break down ligaments in the breast tissue and cause sagging.
When shoping for a bra, think about what sports you'll be participating in. High-impact sports such as running and aerobics require high-impact bras that keep your breasts firmly in place, even for smaller busted women. For activities such as cycling or yoga, you'll still want support, but less so, and a bra that offers a full range of motion for your arms and shoulders.
Get a proper fit first. Talk to a specialist in a major department store or a bra boutique, or try websites such as Team Estrogen or Brayola for tips on sizing (but nothing beats a professional, a dressing room, and a tape measure).
Like regular bras, ordering new sport bras online is a tricky process, especially if you have a larger bosom or a hard-to-fit size, and it's best to visit a shop, select the right bra, and then perhaps buy replacement bras online once you find your favorites.
Many sports bra aim for a compression effect, pressing your breasts together to control movement, which can sometimes result in an unflattering uni-boob look or be uncomfortable -- this is especially true for larger-breasted women, notes Club Spa.
Other options are encapsulation bras, which lift, separate and create shape with supportive cups or underwire. Try a variety of styles to see what works best for you, but look for thick, cushioned shoulder straps for support and comfort, gel-padded hook and eyes if you do mat work, and moisture-wicking fabrics.
Fitness blog Fit Bottom Girls offers a few additional tips for finding the right sports bra:
1. Ensure the band is snug to tight - The band will feel a bit more snug than a regular bra, so be sure it's tight and not riding up in the back.
2. Make sure your breasts aren't spilling out - Your breasts need to be contained in the bra to control bounce. Also be sure the underwire (if there is one) isn't standing away from the body, and the cups aren't too wrinkled or big.
3. Adjust the straps correctly - The straps should feel comfortable but there also shouldn't be any slack.
4. Do the bounce test - Jump up and down in the bra. Runners, aim for a bra that eliminates bounce almost completely - this may require some trial and error. Tennis players, ensure you can move your arms freely. Aerobics fans, make sure your shoulder blades aren't constricted.
5. Put a shirt on over the bra - This is the best way to test whether or not the bra gives you a uni-boob or otherwise looks unflattering. Aim for support and style.
Experts say that your sports bra doesn't last as long as you might think, about 30 or 40 washes (avoid tumble drying your bra, since heat can break down the bra's fabric). One rule of thumb according to Runner's World magazine: you will need three new bras for every one pair of running shoes.