5 reasons to trade your glasses for contact lenses during exercise

I have worn glasses nearly all my life. Although I am a devout contact lens wearer, I have always had a pair of glasses to wear for mornings and evenings and sick days at home.

From my first pair of oh-so-fashionable ‘hex’ frames at the age of 10 (my mother let me choose; for obvious reasons, my children do not have the same freedom)…


contact lenses


to the dark, round, over-sized look of the mid-eighties (sadly, I could find not a single photo of myself wearing these…)

to the ‘evening-only’ pair I currently wear (contact lenses for company, glasses for family)…

 contact lenses

and the reading glasses that I should be wearing, but don’t (so much easier to just enlarge the image on the computer screen)…

contact lenses

Yet until last year, when I contracted a bout of pink eye (nasty, nasty business), I had never worn my glasses while exercising.

After 3 days of teaching and training in glasses, I understood why I rarely see participants wearing them in my group fitness classes.

5 reasons to trade your glasses for contact lenses during exercise

  1. Contact lenses do not slide down your nose. When I exercise, I go hard. I typically sweat a lot. Enough to cause my glasses to continuously slide down my nose. Hard to push them back up when your hands are busy with heavy weights.
  2. Contact lenses do not fog up. Condensation occurs when warm, moist air meets a solid, cooler surface. Like the air between your glasses and your face as your body heats up during exercise. Hard to do HIIT when you can’t see where you’re placing your feet.
  3. Contact lenses do not have a frame to obstruct your view. Today’s preferred glasses styles have fairly small frames. Frames whose edges you can plainly see when you look up, down and side to side. During the choreographed step classes that I teach, I need to have an unobstructed view of my feet and the edges of my step. Wearing glasses while teaching made me much more cautious about my foot placement; I had to move my entire head, rather than just my eyes.
  4. Contact lenses do not have arms to interfere with your wireless mic. Or your big old headphones, if you’re a big old headphone wearer. When I teach, I wear a wireless microphone that hooks behind my left ear. Although my right ear sticks out enough to accommodate both the mic and my glasses, my left ear does not.
  5. Contact lenses do not break if your workout partner or teammate elbows you in the face. Exercising is a risky endeavour. So much potential for injury. From dropped weights to full on contact with training partners and teammates. Glasses are expensive to replace (my boys have each broken a pair playing team sports).

Of course, ‘comfort’ is an obvious addition to this list, but most people who exercise aren’t afraid of a little temporary discomfort, right  😉

The best thing about contact lenses? You can order them online! (If you follow me on Twitter you know what a big fan of online shopping I am…). Unlike glasses, you don’t need to try on a dozen pair to find one that flatters your face. All you need to know is your prescription and your credit card number!

Are you a contact lens wearer?

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses to exercise in?




  1. I’ve worn glasses since I was 8, trifocals since my mid-20’s! I can *just* scrape by without my glasses, but b/c of my prescription, contacts have always been VERY uncomfortable for me . . . so I squint my way thru programming machines at the gym and review printed workout routines several times beforehand so I can decipher my next move w/o my specs (holding page at arm’s length and squinting some more). An imperfect system, to be sure, but the thought of exercising w/my glasses is unbearable!!
    Sarah @ Semi-Sweet recently posted…A Loss (and Leftover Turkey Soup with Lemon, Barley & Kale)My Profile

    • Trifocals? I have never heard of these (but probably will, as my hubby has poor vision and is having some surgery to correct high retinal pressure in February).

      Do your gym’s cardio machines have the option of zooming the display? The ones at my gym do; there’s a little magnifying glass icon that makes the important info larger.

  2. Tamara, I love these photos and know I was dressed similarly in your 10 year old fashions from my home in South Carolina. When I turned 41, I had to start wearing glasses for reading small print and my eyes have continued to get worse over the past few years. But I still don’t need them for driving, general vision and definitely don’t have to wear them at the gym. If that changes though, I will check out contacts based on your advice. 🙂

    • I just loved that striped turtleneck and blue vest combo. My very favourite with bell bottoms!
      Just this year my optometrist backed off a bit on my contact lens prescription to buy me a bit more time without total dependance on readers. It’s not really working…

  3. I wore contact lenses for YEARS!!! I got to the point after so many years that my eyes would not take them anymore without pain & that is when I got the Lasik in 1999. Best decision ever after a couple issues but all is good! My glasses would constantly fog up with sweat & even with contact lenses, I had issues at times…. but much better than glasses! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Run, Lift, Swim, Yoga & More! Workout Wear Review – VIDEO POST!My Profile

    • Ooh, I’m both curious and scared of Lasik. I worry about the surgeon sneezing while she’s making the cut…

  4. PS: I carry around reading glasses too – the cheap ones & don’t need to much strength yet…. I can’t see the friggin cell phone stuff without them! 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Run, Lift, Swim, Yoga & More! Workout Wear Review – VIDEO POST!My Profile

  5. i don’t wear glasses but my husband does. he tries to always wear contacts when running.
    Glenneth recently posted…Give Yourself the Gift of 31!!!My Profile

  6. When I first started teaching, I wore my big ol’ coke bottle glasses! Not only did they fog up, they hurt my nose from the weight of them bouncing up and down on it. Now I only wear contacts for teaching.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Boomer Time and Anytime – Double Time!My Profile

    • I didn’t even think about the weight of the glasses. Yikes! Of course, now they can make even very strong prescriptions out of special, thinner glass (my hubby and son both wear them; much more expensive, but better than developing a permanent dent on your nose!)

  7. You sound like me with your lifetime of various eye wear. I even had a horrifically ugly red-framed pair. What was I thinking?

    Some days the contacts just don’t want to be worn, and I enjoy a day in my glasses, but you’re exactly right–it’s no fun to work out in them. I have a pair I reserve for my sweat times, and they stay pretty secure, but the lenses are a scary mess when I’m done, especially after yoga when I’ve twisted this way and that!

  8. I always switch to glasses for my workouts! I cannot stand the sweat on my face & glasses at the same time.
    Kimberly recently posted…#50in52 Week 12 & Giveaway!My Profile

    • I’m confused. Do you wear glasses when you work out or not Kymberly?

      • Gosh! Total typo! I switch to contacts on my workout days. I was wearing glasses everyday to help give my eyes a rest since contacts can be drying, but I had to switch to contacts on workout days. I just feel so much better without something extra on my face.
        Kimberly recently posted…#50in52 Week 12 & Giveaway!My Profile

  9. No contacts here. I just recently got reading glasses to use while on the computer. I had a twitch in my eye for over 4 months and went to get my eyes checked out. Who knew I needed reading glasses AND to take a one daily woman’s vitamin.

    That company sounds cool though, my mom wears contacts, I’ll mention the site to her this week. Thanks!
    Angie @ Losing It and Loving It recently posted…What I’m Reading: It Starts With FoodMy Profile

  10. I don’t need my glasses when I work out, but if I did, I would be wearing contact lenses for sure! There is nothing worse that sweating in glasses… although I do admit to wearing sunglasses when I run, they don’t fog up at all.

    • I wonder why that is? I wear sunglasses when I run in the heat too; although Vancouver heat isn’t really very hot…

  11. I thankfully only wear glasses when driving at night and looking at things far away (sporting events, movies, etc). No contacts for me. Funny, because wearing the glasses is a change for me and makes me look different.
    Pavement Runner recently posted…Photos From My 12 Races This YearMy Profile

  12. I wear contacts pretty much all the time. I prefer not having anything on my face. But, to be honest, I’m contemplating lasik mainly because contacts get a little tricky if I’m in the water swimming or surfing. But without wearing my contacts, I’m pretty much blind 🙂
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Workout clothes addictionMy Profile

  13. I neeeed contacts again.
    Miz recently posted…Can we make it? I *know* we can!My Profile

  14. I wear glasses all the time and just haven’t gotten into the whole contacts thing. I tried them once, but felt like my eyeballs were sweating/not breathing (weird, I know) and I don’t like poking myself in the eyes every day – do you have any advice for making contacts more comfortable?
    Janice – Fitness Cheerleader recently posted…Continue Your Journey to Your Better With a $100 #MyBetter Gift Card #GiveawayMy Profile

    • Janice, it’s been a long time since I started wearing contacts, but I do remember starting with only 20 minutes at a time. I also used wetting drops liberally until my eyes got used to having lenses in place.

      Of course, making sure that your lenses fit properly is half the battle. Make sure you’re seeing a licensed optometrist for a fitting!

  15. Thanks for sharing this! I agree that contact lenses would be a lot less hassle than glasses when it comes to exercising. As a glasses owner, it might be smart for me to also get some contact lenses. It would be nice to have the option of wearing contacts whenever I wanted.

  16. I think one of the biggest reasons that you mentioned for not wearing contacts during exercise was that contacts don’t break. How frustrating is it to be working out really hard and feeling great but, breaking your glasses. Like you mentioned avoiding that problem can save a lot of money. Thanks for sharing.