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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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
STALBOTT48 6/6/2018
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
SHELLLEY2 6/6/2018
Nope, not a chance! Report
NEPTUNE1939 6/6/2018
TY Report
Comfort when exercising is a must--the workouts can be hard/challenging enough on their own without an outfit causing trouble.
Some activities just require specialty attire, one of those is long-distance cycling--there are reasons cycling shorts exist. They may make little difference for the shorter distance more casual cyclist but are an absolute must for long, long rides. Not just the shorts but also some chaffing prevention like BodyGlide for cyclist.
As someone who hates having to stop and readjust panties that have trouble keeping up with running and fast walking, I've invested in sports leggings and shorts that either have a special liner or are not see-through. No sense in being forced to deal with undergarments that don't measure up.
Glad SparkPeople covered this topic! It's an important one. Report
BIKE4HEALTH 6/5/2018
Great info.....Only wear what you need.... Report
RHVICK 6/5/2018
I go commando while working out. Report
NOEL711 6/5/2018
If it works for you.. but for me? No thank you.
I consider panties/ bra my 'support staff.' Report
BIKE4HEALTH 6/4/2018
I always ride bike commando...wouldnt think of wearing an additional layer, and for what? With all the great options we have out there built to accommodate singularly there is no need for a second layer. Unless of course someone wants to bear the pain and not risk the shame? Report
2DAWN4 6/4/2018
Interesting article Report
Hands breathable. Ahhhhhhh Report
KITTYHAWK1949 6/3/2018
never thought about going without until article...LOL Report
I go commando while working out! Report
DAP1313 6/3/2018
I have to wear underwear due to leakage. Thank you for giving some suggestions on better underwear choices for exercise. Report
Had to laugh at the "constant wedgie" comment in the article. There are some great micro-fiber panties, no lines, no bunching up, they stay where you put them. Bought mine at Walmart, made by Hanes. Report
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