Walking Guide

Should You Exercise Without Underwear?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you ever pulled on a pair of compression leggings, only to find your underwear uncomfortably bunched or twisted? Or worried that your panty lines might be visible to the person behind you in yoga class? Maybe you're just tired of stopping to make not-so-subtle adjustments during your run or walk. Whether it's due to comfort, aesthetics or ventilation, the "unmentionable" question may have crossed your mind at some point. And it's about to get, well, mentioned: Do you really need to wear underwear while working out, or is it ever okay to go commando?
With advances in today's high-tech workout gear, stepping out sans skivvies is a lot more acceptable—and comfortable—than it used to be. Many styles of fitness leggings are designed with form-fitting, seamless fabrics and opaque panels, allowing you to safely ditch the drawers without worrying about any uncomfortable chafing or embarrassing peek-a-boo moments. Similarly, many types of running shorts come with a built-in liner that pretty much does the job of underwear, minimizing any chances of wardrobe malfunctions during stretching time.
Fitness trainer Rui Li is one of the many who chooses not to wear underwear underneath her workout pants. "I don't find it necessary, and I'm not a fan of the visible panty line through the spandex," she says. "Many women will often choose thong underwear [to avoid lines], which I'm always surprised by, because how comfortable is a constant wedgie?"
As a runner, Matt Fitzgerald, author of "The Endurance Diet," points out that nearly all running shorts come with a built-in liner, and adds that "riding a bike with underwear under your bike shorts would be insane. " Acting as a representative of the male perspective on the to-wear-or-not-to-wear dilemma, Fitzgerald says that the only exercise in which he does sometimes wear underwear is weightlifting because it doesn't generate as must sweat and it's not a high-friction, repetitive-motion activity. "For me, it's really a comfort question," he says. "If you can exercise comfortably with underwear under whatever else you're wearing, there's no harm in it. But standard underwear types, such as cotton briefs, are not very comfortable in most activities because they hold moisture and exacerbate friction."
That said, moisture and heat are a recipe for bacterial and yeast infections, so it's important to choose workout bottoms with wicking fabrics to keep you dry down there. Even with the right fabrics, some degree of sweat is inevitable, so try to change and shower or rinse off as quickly as possible after exercising. And, of course, wash and dry your pants or shorts before wearing them for the next session.      
If you're still unsure about going commando for fear of someone getting a glimpse of your goods, rest assured that there are plenty of leggings designed to keep everything under wraps. For peace of mind, try on your pants at home and do a "flash test" with a trusted loved one to ensure that you can do even the deepest squat without risking any indecent exposure.
Of course, if you suffer from any type of exercise-induced incontinence—you know, when a leaky bladder has you avoiding jumping jacks like the plague—going panty-free may not be a possibility. In that case, you may want to choose underwear designed to absorb leaks or consider wearing a liner during workouts.

Is Commando a No-Go?

Still can't wrap your head around eliminating that lower layer? No problem—there are plenty of comfortable, hygienic underwear options designed specifically for working out. Cotton isn’t a terrible choice, but there are also options made from high-tech, antimicrobial fabrics that will move with you, wick away moisture and boost the freshness factor.
"Breathability is really important, because of the billions of microorganisms that live in harmony, keeping each other in check in the nether regions," Li says. "Should oxygen be restricted, it will likely kill off some forms of organisms while encouraging the growth of others, thereby upsetting the delicate ecosystem. Additionally, any kind of slight rubbing from the material will turn into a major rash after however many miles you've walked or run, [which is not only] physically uncomfortable, but can cause ingrown hairs and leave you more exposed to infections."
Just as with new fitness apparel and shoes, be sure to test out your new workout underwear before wearing them to a race or a long boot camp class.
So, do you or don't you? If you don't wear underwear during workouts, what’s your reason?  

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Interesting.... Report
TUKARAMA 8/28/2018
With loose fitting shorts I do. My PT shorts have a built in liner, so no. With compression gear I do not wear underwear, it defeats the purpose of the gear - it would be like cramming underwear in your cycling shorts... not gonna happen!
I agree with @BBEAGAN... No suggestions for men?
I realize this site is mostly women, not sure how I ended up here, but I am getting a bit tired of it... Report
AMBER461 7/7/2018
What a very lnterested thought, thanks for shsring. Report
NANAW12001 7/5/2018
Really. Report
If nothing is showing when you go commando, then I say, go commando. Report
2DAWN4 7/4/2018
What an interesting thought! Report
VICKICHICKI123 7/4/2018
I would NEVER go without undies while working out. Maybe at home but certainly not in public. I wouldn't be able to perform properly for fear of my butt seam giving out during a deep squat. Who wants to see my bare butt cheeks? No-one. Yes the undies get sweated in and I shower either at the gym or as soon as I get home so no harm no fowl. As for VPL issues. I am more worried about not looking like an amateur and having good form than whether someone can see the lines from my granny pants. Report
I've always gone commando for comfort when working out. Sweat running down my back and pooling is uncomfortable, so I wear a micro thin "Always" liner. All good. Report
BHS273 7/4/2018
I am actually 100% behind going commando. I find it just feels more comfy. Also less laundry hahahaha Report
JANET552 7/4/2018
This was not something I ever thought about. Report
PAMBROWN62 7/4/2018
Whatever floats your boat. I wear cotton and, yes, it does get wet. However, I just come home and wash up and change them. I, personally, would not be comfortable sans underwear. Report
FATNOMORE2017 6/22/2018
Interesting... Report
SHURNP69 6/21/2018
Huh. Would have never thought to exercise without underwear. I also would have never thought the question warranted an article, but what do I know? Report
I'm of the generation that wouldn't dream of going without underwear. Glad other people have choices. Report
DEBIGENE 6/11/2018
Just curious, can't even imagine. To each their own I say as long as it doesn't hurt anyone in the process, enjoy !!! Report
JENNAAW 6/9/2018
I love my compression tights because they give my knees excellent support for running. But I do not DARE go without opaque underwear because since the "tights are so tight" there is always the fear that one day they will explode, especially since I wear them day in and day out to exercise. Anyone else have a similar situation? And on the subject of activity and clothing, I have always wondered how those MMA women fighters keep their clothing secure... Report
Very interesting! Report
PLATINUM755 6/6/2018
Something to think about! Report
interesting.... Report
_CYNDY55_ 6/6/2018
Wow! interesting, I agree! Report
AQUAGIRL08 6/6/2018
Interesting! Thank you! Report
GGRSPARK 6/6/2018
I am a big fan of the New Balance underwear. They wash out and dry quickly - great for travel too. Report
KMILL0718 6/6/2018
Most of my shorts have underwear built in, I don’t see the point in doubling up on it. As far as leggings, I don’t usually. I also only own one pair and they’re dark/thick.
Couldn’t imagine working out without a sports bra, though! Report
Never thought about not wearing underwear. Report
SPARKFRAN514 6/6/2018
I vote for under ware a bra is a must to get a sports bra. Report
GADGETCC 6/6/2018
I need my undies. I feel more comfortable, and I have never had a problem with infections, friction or anything else. It wicks up all my sweat and I feel so much better.

Has anybody asked a doctor if one is healthier? Just curious. Report
LOSINGFORME16 6/6/2018
I don't wear underwear as I do have very fat thighs so I sweat alot there. I don't wear underwear for that reason as I would get a lot of infections due to that. Report
DAWN1830 6/6/2018
I don't mind going commando, I hate underwear and brassieres. And I see that the crotch area would be covered, but what about butt crack sweat? What protection is there for the hiney and the sweat that will bleed through the fabric that way? Report
SOOKIE 6/6/2018
Nope, I wear underwear. I may look into this options mentioned. Thanks for the info Report
Why are there no suggestions for men? Are there no choices out there for them? Report
BIKE4HEALTH 6/6/2018
Great thought Report
PICKIE98 6/6/2018
Going commando is for newborns and kilt-wearers,, in winter. Report
LIS193 6/6/2018
Ok then.. Report
HAWKTHREE 6/6/2018
I remember the day someone in workout pants went commando for pilates class. I will never go commando after seeing that. Report
ALUKOWSKY 6/6/2018
I absolutely HATE the expression "going commando;" not sure why! As for wearing underwear or not, it really depends on the type of exercise I am doing. If it's my gym workout (cardio and weights,) I am wearing spandex leggings that fit securely so I don't also need underwear. When I used to run, and when I ride, I do wear it. As almost everyone else said, I can't imagine why this would be an issue; do whatever feels comfortable. Report
97MONTY 6/6/2018
Never though about it. Report
This is something I never I thought about but I will consider some of the underwear that was recommended here. I'm a little surprised that you didn't recommend anything for men though. Report
SONEEDAY55 6/6/2018
Wow!! With all the issues in the world to lose sleep over, I can't believe this would be one of them... I didn't know this was such a problem for some :/ Report
CHEEZCHIK32 6/6/2018
Interesting read and makes alot of sense. But, while working out, visible panty lines has NEVER been a thought for me on what I wear. Report
Weird and informative! I read the article just because the headline was so strange. Gotta say, the information opened my mind. I do wish they had consulted an actual doctor instead of a fitness trainer as their expert though. Still, good read! As the kids say, "You do you, Boo." Report
Walmart has hanes underwear that is breathable and microfibre. I did think that wearing underwear under wicking clothes seemed counter intuitive. But happy that the industry caught on. Report
I have never thought of not wearing underwear when working out, it doesn't bother me to wear them so "if it ain't broke then it don't need fixing" as my dad used to say.
Whatever works for a person and makes them comfortable, got to get that exercise in! Report
LADYG67 6/6/2018
My Granny taught me to never leave home without wearing clean underwear and this is a practice that I continue to this day. As with anything, it's a personal choice of the individual. Thanks for the article! Report
TYS123 6/6/2018
I’ve been going commando now for years and my workouts have never been better! One of the best choices I’ve made since choosing to workout! Report
AZMOMXTWO 6/6/2018
to each his own you have a choice Report
DMEYER4 6/6/2018
interesting . I feel undressed without undergarments Report
HEDSTS58 6/6/2018
I have to have underwear. I can't go commando. But I do like the breathable underwear. Make sure your underwear fit. Don't try to squeeze into a smaller size Report
SUNSET09 6/6/2018
I'm a undergarment wearing athlete for comfort and safety reasons. No wedges here, quite interesting. Sometimes, not wearing can cause a distraction, hum Report
JANET552 6/6/2018
Now, this is something I never thought about before this. Report
BBEAGAN 6/6/2018
No suggestions for men?? Report
Walking Guide