And if you need a little help in the vision department, eyeglasses might also be on your gym bag checklist. But while they might make it easier to see the treadmill monitor or your Zumba instructor's demonstrations, frames and lenses aren't exactly conducive to a hard-core sweat session.
Keith Wallace, a certified yoga instructor and a running coach with the Road Runners Club of America, has been working out with glasses all his life. "The biggest annoyance is probably having your glasses continuously slip down your nose due to sweat," he said. "Pushing your glasses up every minute during a four-hour marathon is a real pain."
Jumping or other high-impact moves can also be disruptive if you're wearing frames. "Anyone who wears glasses knows burpees are basically off limits," notes Caleb Backe, certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. "Anytime you're really going all out during a workout, there's a high chance your glasses will just fly off altogether."
And, of course, there's the cleanliness factor, as glasses will need to be wiped clean of sweat and salt residue after exercise.
But as annoying as they can be, it might not be an option to simply scrap the specs before hitting the gym or the pavement. Whether you're lifting weights, hopping on the elliptical or taking a spin class, blurry vision could compromise the effectiveness and safety of your workout. And if you're part of a sports team, your performance could be affected by limited vision.
"If you need your glasses and really struggle to see without them, you shouldn't be taking them off for your workout," Backe says. "Unless you're doing a low-impact workout like yoga, your eyes are a necessary component to ensure balance, avoid dangers and just keep your general wits about you while you exercise."
Now for the good news: With these expert-recommended tips, you can still enjoy crystal-clear eyesight without pausing mid-step or mid-rep to adjust your glasses.
Secure them with a strap.
The quickest and most hassle-effective way to secure your eyeglasses is to use a strap that goes around the back of your head and holds them in place. "If you have plastic frames or experience slipping with rubber nose pads, then use a simple eyeglasses cord strap and cinch the adjustment clasp tight to the back of your head," Wallace suggests. "This will keep the glasses from sliding down your nose."
Wax on, wax off.
Backe points out there are special waxes that can be applied to the nose piece of your glasses to reduce slippage during your workout. "It might need to be reapplied mid-workout, but that's a small price to pay to avoid the inconvenience that wearing glasses during your workout entails," he says.
Purchase dedicated workout glasses.
For complete peace of mind, you might consider purchasing a pair of sport glasses with prescription lenses. Many eyewear companies also offer activewear frames, which are designed to stay comfortably in place so you can see clearly and move safely during even the most grueling physical activity. Typically made from more rugged materials that can withstand heavy impact, they can also help cut down on glare, which is especially helpful when biking, running or walking outside in the sun.
Michael Chernich, senior director of eye care for Pearle Vision and a doctor of optometry, recommends looking for plastic instead of metal frames, because they are hypoallergenic and won't irritate your skin and hair, and are also much easier to clean.
"Think about when someone gets really involved or interested in working out, and the investment they willingly make in good yoga pants or CrossFit shoes," he says. "Why would you not make that level of investment in activewear eyeglasses?"
Try contact lenses.
If your goal is to forego the frames altogether, one option is to switch to contact lenses for exercise, which will solve both the comfort and cleanliness issues, Dr. Chernich notes.
"The preferred choice would be to use single-use lenses, which are available from all major contact lens manufacturers," he suggests. "Even for people who regularly wear contacts, it's a good idea to have a small supply of single-use lenses for hiking, biking or gym workouts. That way, you can remove them immediately after working out and won't have to worry about carrying solution and a case to the gym."
One caveat to watch out for with contacts: Be sure to keep your eyes moisturized to prevent dry eye. "When moving around a lot, especially in a room with the air conditioner blasting, your contacts can dry out and the eyes can become irritated," warns Alex Tran, a yoga and meditation instructor. If you are going the contact route, it's a good idea to toss some contact-safe moisturizing eye drops in your gym bag and apply as needed.
With a little foresight, you can start every workout with a clear vision of your goals and your gear—without being distracted by slipping specs.