Wearing a Sports Bra That Is Too Tight Can Affect Breathing While Exercising, a Study Shows

According to the study, women who wear sports bras that are too tight take fewer breaths while exercising

<p>Getty Images</p> Woman jogging outside

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Woman jogging outside

Be cautious: It turns out that wearing a tight sports bra while exercising may not be good for your health, according to a new study.

The study, which was published in the National Library of Medicine, was funded by Lululemon Athletica and conducted by the University of British Columbia. During their research, they examined the breathing patterns of nine elite runners.

While on a treadmill, runners wore custom sports bras that could be adjusted to different tightness levels. The bras were designed for individuals with rib cage sizes ranging from 30 to 34 and cup sizes of B or C. Throughout the study, the runners engaged in various treadmill workouts, during which they adjusted the tightness of their sports bras differently for each session.

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<p>Getty Images</p> Women running

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Women running

The study — which focused on the tightness only around the rib cage — revealed that women who wore a sports bra that was too tight took fewer breaths and exhibited a higher breaths-per-minute rate, noting that "respiratory function may become compromised by the pressure exerted by the underband."

However, those who wore a less constrictive sports bra "resulted in a decreased work of breathing," and improved one's running economy by decreasing submaximal oxygen uptake.

“People ask, ‘What sports bra should I wear?’ I say, ‘Wear one that is correctly fitted,’” Shalaya Kipp, the lead author of the study who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, told the Washington Post. “That’s probably the biggest thing that would help.”

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<p>Getty Images</p> Sports bras for sale in a store

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Sports bras for sale in a store

Specifically, the study showed how wearing a looser bra had a 1.3% improvement rate for a person's running economy. Kipp told the outlet that a 2% increase in running economy would help a three-hour marathon runner improve their time by three minutes.

“It was quite invasive,” Kipp, who also competed in the 2012 Olympics and participated in the study, said. “It's the hardest experimental protocol I've ever had someone do.”

"A decline in lung function makes breathing harder, which is especially critical during exercise or daily physical activity,” she added, per the outlet.

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