The Hazards of Lingering in Sweaty Clothes After Indoor Cycling

Post-Cycling Skin Hangovers You'll Want to Avoid

Now that summer is here, you may be trying to beat the heat by exercising at the gym more often, rather than in the swelteringly hot and humid outdoors. Good move! But don’t become complacent.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of lingering in sweaty clothes after an indoor cycling class, thinking that because you’re in air-conditioning you’ll cool off fast or that it’s okay to wait to shower until after you’ve run errands or gone out for an iced coffee with a friend.

Bad ideas!

Sweat Hangovers to Avoid

Staying in your sweat-soaked indoor cycling clothes can lead to a host of bad hangovers—and we’re not counting body odor among them.

For one thing, there’s an increased risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection if you’re a woman, and this is especially true in hot weather. The simple truth is: Yeast thrives in moist environments, and if you’re wearing nylon or other synthetic fabrics that hold moisture close to your skin, you’re putting your nether region at risk by hanging out in drenched cycling shorts or workout pants. You could end up with a raging yeast infection, if not inside the vagina then on the sensitive vulva.

Or, the combination of moistness and friction from tight workout clothes can lead to below-the-belt chafing or other skin irritations for both men and women. Chafing usually happens between the thighs but after a sweat-fest like indoor cycling, it can also happen under your breasts, under your arms, or in other areas where skin meets skin.

Chafing can be uncomfortable at best, and super painful if it morphs into a heat rash or infection.

And if you wear a thong for indoor cycling, it basically creates a superhighway for bacteria to travel from your anus to your vagina, which can lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI). Your best bet is to steer clear of thongs and stick with undies made of a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric or that have a cotton liner.

After your workout, shower and change into fresh, dry clothes as soon as you can. If you don’t have time to shower, towel-dry yourself from head to toe and at least change into fresh underwear and shorts or pants. 

If sweat gets trapped in your clothes, it also can clog your pores, triggering ​acne outbreaks (if you’re susceptible to them) or a bacterial infection anywhere on your skin, especially if you have a cut or abrasion. The result: A painful, itchy skin irritation or rash, chafing, a fungal infection, or worse.

The Fungus Among Us

Meanwhile, adding insult to misery, fungus can hunker down and multiply in any of your skin folds, including your groin, your armpits, under your breasts, and other sensitive real estate. Again, the preventive solution is simple: Change out of those dirty, moist clothes ASAP. Shower if you can; otherwise, wipe yourself down with a dry towel or a skin-care wipe then put on dry clothes.

Fungus also thrives in the dark, moist environment of your shoes! Some people are more concerned about catching athlete’s foot from a locker room than they are from breeding it themselves in the moist prison of their shoes.

Neglecting to wash and dry your feet, including between the toes, after an indoor cycling workout can set the stage for a raging case of athlete’s foot. If you don’t have time to shower right after your workout, change socks or air out your feet in flip-flops until you can hit the shower.

Summer is prime-time for athlete’s foot, and your best protection, according to the American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopedics & Medicine, is to keep your feet clean and dry at all times.

  • Sprinkle an antifungal powder into your cycle shoes to inhibit the growth of fungus and mold spores.
  • If you have two pairs of shoes for indoor cycling, alternate shoes between sessions to give each pair ample time to dry out.

A Final Reminder

Walking around in sweaty clothes and shoes after a workout is a mistake that can come back to haunt you from head to toe—so don’t do it!

Shower right away—or at least towel off and change your clothes, socks, and shoes. Your skin will thank you, and you’ll feel that much better moving through everyday life or gearing up for your next ride.

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