The beauty of walking sports is that you can throw on a comfy old pair of trainers and use your jumper for a goal post. It’s not about fashion, it’s about fun.
For some of us, the enjoyment comes from throwing ourselves headlong into a new hobby – from reading up on the rules to getting kitted out. It’s not essential – all that matters is that you’re comfortable. But if you’re curious about the benefits of sportswear, but don’t know where to start, you’re in the right place. Or perhaps you like the prospect of getting into walking sports regalia, game-face on, ready to charge down the pitch. Maybe your body confidence isn’t what it once was, so you fancy finding flattering gear without squeezing your finances.
We’re not saying you need a whole new wardrobe. But if wearing the right fitness gear is a priority for you, we can help – whether you want comfort, catwalk or a mix of both. So don’t worry “do I need specialist fitness wear?” or “I don’t own anything sporty”, because that’s besides the point. Exercise isn’t a fashion parade; it’s about feeling good. That means being physically comfortable and confident.
If you’ve decided to treat yourself to new kit, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve outlined clothing worth saving up for. If your pennies are better spent elsewhere, don’t worry – do this for you. Your trusty trackies will always see you through!
New kit needn’t cost a fortune. Here’s where you can be economical...
A wardrobe staple, a decent t-shirt is always affordable and guarantees plenty of wears. But if you’re prone to sweating and are looking for a way to combat this on the cheap, check the label for cotton. This material absorbs moisture easily and will stick to your skin if you perspire (a strong possibility, given that some of these walking sports are no ‘walk in the park’!). Instead, opt for nylon and polyester because they ‘wick sweat’. Sounds scientific, but it just means that wicking fabric pulls moisture from the body to the exterior of the shirt where it can evaporate more easily. Not to mention that nylon and polyester are breathable and stretchy for added comfort. Better yet, they are most common in affordable activewear. Result.
Most department stores stock fitness wear, but sports retailers like Sports Direct sell affordable tops that do the job for under £10. Strappy, sleeveless or short sleeve will be the most comfortable, but if you are going to be working up a sweat out in the cold, throw a jacket into your kit bag, too.
It’s no secret that you’ll get warm while exercising, thanks to your increased heart rate and hard-working muscles. But don’t forget the walk to and from the game, even if you’re playing indoors – your body temperature will fall after an energetic session of walking sports so having another layer is always a good idea. It will certainly help the half-time chill, too!
Again, a sports retailer is going to be your best bet for an affordable, lightweight sports jacket and there’s no need to spend more than £30.
Shorts and tracksuit bottoms
A cheap pair of exercise shorts won’t cost more than £10, but while they’re practical in the heat, not everyone feels comfortable baring their legs. If you’d rather wear tracksuit bottoms, expect to cut costs on your bottom half, as an affordable pair will still cost less than £20. Remember to look out for breathable, sweat-wicking materials again here, avoiding cotton if you’re conscious of sweating.
If you fancy going the extra mile, sweatbands are a fun choice. It’s an optional extra and not a staple – unless you’d really like to look the part.
Accessories that keep you warm on the other hand are worth bringing along, so consider digging out a hat. Walking sports can be static at times so, if you’re playing outdoors, you may feel the chill. When it comes to taking turns on the substitution bench, you might welcome a little extra warmth round the ears. If indoor sports are more your thing, you’ll want to keep cosy when you head for that post-game cuppa and on the way home. Don’t worry about spending out on a brand-new hat though – bring your trusty old beanie or find a second-hand one in a local charity shop.
If you’re interested in knowing which clothes are worth spending a little more on for added comfort, check out the below.
Gentlemen feel free to skip down to the next section, because this one’s all about sports bras. Every woman knows that a good bra is like a good friend – and support is vital when it comes to exercise.
It can be uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, to exercise without a supportive bra and can result in damage over time. A mid-impact sports bra is all you’ll need for walking sports. Do consider getting a fitting if you’re not sure what to look for.
Available from both sportswear stores and lingerie departments in stores like M&S, a decent sports bra might set you back somewhere between £20-30.
Leggings / base layer
Another alternative is leggings – they stretch, so are comfortable and won’t get in the way. Always check you’ve picked up leggings designed specifically for sports, as fashion leggings may not be fully opaque or, technically speaking, made of sweat-wicking materials. Check out sports shops or H&M on the high street has a good activewear range.
A ‘base layer’ acts like a ‘second skin’ but, unlike leggings, serves a more technical, ‘sweat wicking’ purpose. The fabric is coated in a special technology that draws sweat away from the skin which quickly evaporates, leaving you feeling dry and comfortable. A popular choice for men and women alike, it can be worn alone or underneath clothing for an extra layer of warmth. Check out sports shop Decathlon.
Trainers and / or boots
It’s wise to prioritise a decent pair of trainers to avoid injury or uncomfortable aches and pains. If you’d like to buy a new pair specially fitted to your feet, you’ll feel the benefits. Good-quality shoes for exercise have midsole cushioning and arch support, which can aid balance while preventing issues like shin splints, stress fractures and joint pain. If they fit perfectly, you can avoid painful blisters and the on-set (or worsening) of back pain.
It can be difficult to know what to look for, so specialist shops like Up and Running are well worth a visit. Their in-store experts offer gait analysis, watching you walk (and run, if you’re up for it) on a treadmill, then mould trainers that fit your feet. It’s a free-of-charge service and Up and Running have multiple locations across the UK. Expect to pay £50 upwards for decent trainers, with technical or performance brands costing more. In-soles can also be specially made – they may increase the overall cost but are recommended for added comfort. It’s all about finding the right fit for your feet.
It’s essential to choose shoes with the right reinforcement for your feet and ankles, but it’s worth thinking about terrain, too. Why not wear an old pair of trainers the first time you turn up to a walking sports session and ask the organiser for advice on the best footwear? For outdoor games like walking hockey, football and touch rugby, you might want to consider boots. Your coach can advise on studs or moulded rubber studded boots, then you can decide whether you’d like to invest.
Think about what works for you. The right kit might not be a priority – and it doesn’t need to be. But if you fancy smartening up your sportswear, there’s no need to break the bank. The best investment you can make is in your health. By trying walking sports, you’re halfway there – the key is to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable, supported and agile in action on the pitch.