It’s hard enough for most people to work out on a regular basis without worrying about how they smell. But, now, it might be a matter of what you wear rather than the kind of deodorant you use. New research, soon to appear in the edition of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, puts a whole new fragrance to exercise.
It turns out that polyester, popularly used in exercise apparel, smells worse than cotton when it is soaked with perspiration because the bacteria that cause odor grow better on polyester.
“Micrococci are able to grow better on polyester,” according to lead author of the study, Chris Callewaert, of Ghent University in Belgium. Callewaert is currently investigating exactly why polyester encourages their growth and suspects it has to do with the nature of its surfaces.
Fresh sweat, by itself, has very little odor, but on the clothes, the main culprit bacteria are micrococci, says Callewaert. “They are known for their enzymatic potential to transform long-chain fatty acids, hormones, and amino acids into smaller—volatile—compounds, which have a typical malodor.”
Just another choice to make before exercising. But maybe now we know why sweat towels are not typically made of polyester.