Sportswear or active wear is clothing, including footwear, worn for sport or physical exercise. Sport-specific clothing is worn for most sports and physical exercise, for practical, comfort or safety reasons.
Typical sport-specific garments include shorts, tracksuits, T-shirts, tennis shirts and polo shirts. Specialized garments include wet suits (for swimming, diving or surfing) and salopettes (for skiing) and leotards (for gymnastics). Sports footwear includes trainers. It also includes some underwear, such as the jockstrap and sports bra. Sportswear is also at times worn as casual fashion clothing.
For most sports the athletes wear a combination of different items of clothing, e.g. sport shoes, pants and shirts. In some sports, protective gear may be requiring to be worn, such as helmets or American football body armour.
Sportswear is typically designed to be light weight so as not to encumber the wearer. The best athletic wear for some forms of exercise, for example cycling, should not create drag or be too bulky.
On the other hand, sportswear should be loose enough so as not to restrict movement. Some sports have specific style requirements, for example the Keikogi used in karate. Various physically dangerous sports require protective gear, e.g. for fencing, American football or ice hockey.
Standardized sportswear may also function as a uniform. In team sports the opposing sides are usually made identifiable by the colours of their clothing, while individual team members can be made recognizable by a back number on a shirt.
Spandex is the preferred material for form-fitting sportswear, such as used in wrestling, track & field, dance, gymnastics and swimming.
Sportswear design must consider the thermal insulation needs of the wearer. In hot situations, sportswear should allow the wearer to stay cool; while in cold situations, sportswear should help the wearer to stay warm.
Sportswear should also be able to transfer sweat away from the skin, using, for example, moisture transferring fabric. Spandex is a popular material used as base layers to soak up sweat. For example, in activities such as skiing and mountain climbing this is achieved by using layering: moisture transferring materials are worn next to the skin, followed by an insulating layer, and wind and then water resistant shell garments.
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