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As a woman, choosing sports apparel can be tough. You want your athletic shorts to last through the pull of a good workout, but you also want to look cute while you sweat. It's possible to have the best of both worlds, and it's not about buying the most expensive brand. It's the fabric, cut and little extra features that will make your pair of sports shorts a winner or a loser.
Newer synthetic fabrics “wick” the sweat away from your skin. These are less porous than cotton and more breathable, so they help moisture evaporate quickly and keep your body cool. Most of these newer materials made for athletic use are pricier than regular gear, but it's worth the cost when it comes to comfort and durability. According to Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD for Everyday Health, clothing made out of fabrics containing polypropylene, such as COOLMAX® and SUPPLEX®, are good choices.
Side panels aren't just for style purposes -- they work wonders during extra-vigorous workouts, such as those that involve running. On women's shorts, side panels are usually tapered upward slightly to give your legs more room to move. With shorts that are awkwardly fitted around your thighs, you could get chaffing or even rip your shorts at the sides. Another purpose of side panels is for air circulation -- the most popular panels in sports shorts are those made of mesh for extra cooling action.
If you've been using regular shorts or leggings to work out, you've probably noticed red indent marks around your waist from core exercises. When you invest in a pair of sports shorts, make sure the elastic waist band is comfortable and doesn't cut into your sides when you contort your body. If you're self-conscious about your midsection, you can even opt for tummy-control athletic shorts. These suck in your belly with a fitted but breathable material blend containing Spandex.
Pockets are a matter of personal preference, but they're probably a must-have if you listen to music while you exercise. You want somewhere to keep your MP3 player, but you don't want baggy pockets that bunch up every time you move -- show off that figure you're working so hard for. Some newer yoga pants have small pockets inserted within the front waistband for tucking in your music player. These are discreet and don't add any extra bulge.