You’ve probably seen many a jogger breeze past you in their sleek leggings. And then right after that, someone else wearing what looks like the exact same thing, shouldering a yoga mat and walking calmly out of a studio. You’re left wondering, are these pants interchangeable?
Leggings designed for yoga and leggings designed for running have some similar traits, but they are technically distinct. However, yoga pants are commonly used for running anyway, which, while not optimal, is harmless. Some types of leggings are 2-in-1, designed to suit both activities.
What are the differences between yoga and running leggings?
When buying a pair of yoga leggings, your top criteria should be comfort. Yoga can be physically intense, but underlying the exercises is a spirit of reflection, quietness, and finding your center. To do this without distraction, you’ll need pants that are soft, comfortable, and flexible to accommodate the yoga poses without wearing out over time.
This works out into a few, slightly more concrete factors you could look out for. For one, you might want to go with a high-waisted option. This would prevent your pants from slipping down uncomfortably as you’re stretching.
Next, the fabric: you should also invest in high-quality, breathable material blends. These are usually unique to different brands – Lululemon’s Wunder Under High-Rise Tight, for instance, is made with the company’s trademarked Full-On Luxtreme fabric. Have a go at researching the different material properties available to find one that best suits your needs. A four-way stretch material should ensure good durability and flexibility at all the right joints.
Because of the vigorous movement they need to support, purpose-built running leggings are a little different from yoga pants. Their key distinction is their compression. Running leggings need to be tight to support your muscles and help with post-workout recovery.
Next, you’ll want to look for a gusset, which is an extra bit of triangular or diamond-shaped fabric in the crotch area. This, together with the overall tightness, helps to prevent the leggings from shifting around or riding up too much while you’re running, which can be annoying and distracting.
Another handy feature you should consider in running leggings is fabric with moisture-wicking properties. Moisture-wicking fabric pulls moisture away from the skin surface through its capillary design, quickly moving sweat to its outer surface. From there, its quick-drying property works its magic to help sweat evaporate quickly before more moisture comes in from behind.
Nonetheless, running leggings do share some common traits with yoga pants. Breathability is, of course, something your sweaty legs will appreciate from inside those compression pant sleeves. You’ll also never go wrong with a high-waisted design, which similarly prevents the leggings from sliding down as you run.
Now you know that yoga pants aren’t exactly the same as running leggings. Still, many people seem happy to use yoga leggings for running. And they just might be on to something – while compression is known to be helpful in recovery, a 2015 sports science study found that its effect on performance during an actual workout might be little more than a placebo effect. Compression might not be doing a number on anything other than your wallet.
Clearly, it’s not really that much of a problem what you choose to wear as long as your attire does not impede your activity. And yoga pants, with their reasonably similar attributes to running leggings, are a pretty reasonable alternative.
Of course, designers are way ahead of you in this line of thought. If you frequently run and do yoga and are hoping to find a universal pant that will support you well in both activities, here’s a couple of 2-in-1 leggings that you might find helpful: