Here’s When to Throw Out or Replace Your Workout Gear

If you love to work out, you know how important your activewear is. Finding the right fit, deciding if it’s supportive enough, and choosing the right colors and patterns can be an endeavor. And after putting that much work into creating the perfect workout wardrobe, we should be set for life, right?

Unfortunately, no.

Just like anything we own, our activewear and workout gear has a lifespan. And after a certain period of time, extensive use can begin to wear on it, making it no longer as effective as it used to be. While the thought of parting with our favorite sneakers or our sports bra from our college track team days may seem unbearable, holding on to it can have a negative impact on your workout.

Signs you should throw out your activewear

So while it can be tough to say goodbye to your favorite activewear, giving your workout wardrobe a refresh can help your comfort, safety and overall performance. But how do you know it’s time to replace your workout gear? Here are five signs you should look for:

You’ve had them longer than you should

Your activewear doesn’t last forever. And while we all like to get our money’s worth, holding onto your gear for longer than you should could have a negative impact on your workout (think discomfort and lack of support). Every piece of gear has an approximate lifespan, so learning how long each is meant to last can help you determine when to toss. Here are approximately how long you should ideally be holding on to your gear:

    Sports bras: 6 months
    Leggings: 2 years
    Workout tanks: 10+ years (until you notice wear and tear)
    Sneakers: 6 months-1 year   

Everything starts to feel (too) stretchy

Your workout clothes should be comfortable, sure, but comfortable enough to attend a workout class—not binge Netflix and take a nap. Clothing like leggings and sports bras should feel supportive and not too loose. Between workouts and your washing machine, however, it’s normal for your workout clothes to stretch out a bit over time. As soon as your sports bra starts feeling too big and your leggings a bit loose, you’ll know it’s time to shop for a new set. Trust us; your body will notice the difference once you start donning new activewear that feels supportive and snug.

You’re beginning to notice some wear and tear

Ever pick out a workout outfit that makes you want to sweat? Wearing clothing and using gear you like isn’t just for pleasure, it can actually be a real motivating factor that can get you to class. But when your gear starts to show signs of wear and tear, it’s a good move to go ahead and toss it. Next time you’re rummaging through your gym bag, note any signs of discoloring, tearing or other wear. It could be time to replace them.

Your body feels discomfort

Probably the number-one sign you should absolutely replace your workout clothing and gear is when your body starts to notice the difference. Sports bra feeling loose and not offering support? Starting to get shin splints and aches in your ankles after running? Don’t take these signs of discomfort lightly. Investigate how long you’ve been holding onto the product and decide if it’s time to say goodbye.

Your gear isn’t doing its job

If your hands and feet can’t stop slipping while in downward dog, it may be time to replace that yoga mat. We know it can be tough to make the decision to toss some of the gear you’ve been using for a while, but the moment it stops doing the job it’s supposed to do is the moment it’s time to wave goodbye. 

When to throw out your workout gear

We asked the founder of FitTipDaily, Adria Ali, to weigh in on the shelf life of our necessary workout gear. See what she had to say about when to replace your workout gear. Plus a few fun additions for your workout wardrobe, because the best part of throwing out the old is buying the new!

Class Shoes

Replace them after: 6-8 months (4 months if you wear them daily)
Why? Your athletic shoes are supporting your full weight, which means that once they start to “give,” it’s time for a new pair. Whether you’re doing squats or doing cardio on the elliptical, proper support is important to protect your form and your joints.

Running Shoes

Replace them after: 4-6 months (4 months if you wear them daily)
Why? Running shoes take a beating and can break down fairly quickly. It’s important to make sure that your running shoes are supporting your arches and your body weight. Broken down running shoes can lead to injury, muscle imbalances and poor posture. Avoid the pain and sprains and keep your shoes up to par!

Sports Bras

Replace them after: 8 months to a year and a half
Why? Women get lax with sports bras because they think that wearing them for 1-2 hours a day (3-4 times a week) means that they last longer – which isn’t true. These bras are meant to keep everything supported through jumping, running, bouncing and lifting. When these bras fail, you will feel the repercussions in your back and chest. No one wants to test the waters which lead to sagging, stretch marks and a hunched back.

Sports Leggings

Replace them after: 6-8 months
Why? The portion of leggings that get the most wear and tear are the seams of the inner thighs. Keep an eye on these and look for loose or fraying strings. This is a good way to know when it’s time to them in for a new pair.

Refillable Water Bottles

Replace after: About a year
Why? Constant use will begin to break down plastics, which is why it’s important to replace them. Make sure that your plastic water bottles do not contain BPA. BPA free bottles will spare you the leaching of toxins into your water.

Sweatbands

Replace after: 2-3 months
Why? The biggest problem with the shelf life of sweat bands is the constant washing. Keeping them clean can take a toll on the elastic

Yoga Mats

Replace after: 6 months to a year
Why? The wear and tear on your yoga mat is dependent on a lot of factors. Generally, tearing, odors and permanently curled edges are all things that can interfere with your practice and signs that it’s time for a replacement. 

Danielle Page is the founder of ThisisQuarterlife.com, a blog that provides necessary information for navigating the awkward phase of adulthood known as “quarterlife.” Danielle’s work has been featured on Cosmo, Woman’s Day, Your Tango, Bustle, The New York Times, Thought Catalog, Elite Daily and the Huffington Post.