This may come as a surprise, but just like you wouldn’t go for a jog in your favourite pair of jeans (you, wouldn’t, right?) the sunglasses you wear lounging poolside are not good for outdoor workouts. Sporty sunnies are as fit for purpose as high-waisted leggings or a moisture-wicking t-shirt. And like the rest of your workout gear, the pair you choose depends on the activity you’re going to be using them for. We asked Deon Ebel from sunglasses manufacturer Maui Jim to give us the low-down on what to look out for when shopping for active eyewear.
As with most fitness accessories, when you’re working out, lighter sunglasses are your friend. You might not notice it in the shop, but when you’re fighting for breath eight kays into your 10-kay, even something as trivial as the weight of your sunglasses on your face can feel like an added trial.
There are few things more annoying than feeling your sunglasses slipping off your face every five minutes. Look for arms that fit snugly but don’t dig into your head. Don’t feel shy about jumping up and down a bit in the shop to test their staying power.
Probably not what springs to mind when you think about your ideal pair of sunglasses, but comfy nose pads make a huge difference when you’re exercising. Scratchy plastic, in the presence of sweat, creates a sting that feels like slow torture. Instead, look for silicone pads.
We’re all for fashionable styles most days of the week, but for exercise, your sunglasses need to wrap around your face, protecting your eyes from both debris and glare.
Look for lenses that offer 100% UV protection (not all do!), are polarised and designed to reduce glare. Polarised lenses reduce eye strain and help you see colours more vividly and objects more crisply. You can also look out for anti-fogging technology so they don’t mist up when you start sweating, scratch resistance in the event you drop them while you’re out on a run and water repellant qualities if you train in the rain. This won’t stop them getting wet, but instead of the rain beading on the lenses, it will run off.
This light box shows how polarised lenses affect how we see the world. The image on the left is the box as seen with the naked eye. The image on the right shows the box through a pair of Maui Jim polarised sunglasses.
When you’re choosing sunglasses for exercise, this isn’t just about what will go best with your outfit. Different lens colours affect how you see the world in different ways. There are four main colour options to consider. Here’s how to choose the best one for your sport.
This neutral colour has the highest light reduction factor so it’s a good option if you’re usually out during full, bright sunlight and have sensitive eyes.
Also good for soothing and relaxing the muscles of your eyes, lenses this colour enhance contrast. So they’re great on the golf course and for hiking, as you’ll perceive colours more vividly, while reducing the strain on your eyes.
If you typically run or cycle in the early mornings, these are a good option as green lenses allow you to see in lower light conditions, but will still provide good UV protection as the sun rises higher. Yellow lenses are also great for low light, but they won’t offer the same UV protection as green lenses after sunrise.
These are best for all-rounders. They have light reduction properties like neutral grey lenses, but also offer some of the depth and contrast qualities that you’ll find in rose lenses.