Uber Images/ShutterstockSweating it out in a sauna can not only make you feel amazing, but it’s got proven health benefits. There’s also scientific evidence that heat therapy plus exercise enhances cardiovascular health benefits. And for decades now, celebrities have been wearing various versions of the “sauna suit” to accelerate weight loss. In fact, in the last several years, at least two of the Kardashians have jumped on the sauna suit weight loss bandwagon. Yet skeptics have long been scoffing at the notion that you can burn more calories, or get any other health benefits, from wearing one of these things. (Here are proven benefits of sitting in a sauna.)
Well, skeptics, sit back down. According to a new study out of Western State Colorado University, exercising in a neoprene sauna suit can not only help you lose weight, but also burn fat, lower your blood sugar levels, and increase your aerobic fitness. The study was published in the latest issue of Certified, the free online monthly publication from the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
The study, which was led by Lance C. Dalleck, Ph.D (assisted by his team of researchers at the University) involved 45 overweight participants who said they didn’t exercise. Dr. Dalleck and his team divided them into three groups, who over the next eight weeks either didn’t exercise at all, exercised five days a week for 45 minutes while wearing a sauna suit, or exercised for 45 minutes per week in regular exercise clothes. After the eight weeks were up, the researchers found that while everyone who exercised showed significant health improvements, the improvements were significantly higher for those in the sauna-suit group.
The greatest improvement was seen in VO2max—a measurement of the maximum volume of oxygen that can be used during exercise, which is an important indicator of a person’s aerobic fitness level. Sauna-suit-wearing exercisers averaged 11.7 increase in VO2max from their baseline levels, compared with a 7.3 percent increase in non-sauna-suit exercisers. Sauna-suit-wearers also had lower blood sugar levels, lost more total body weight, burned more fat, and increased the amount of calories they burned while in a resting state. As for comfort, everyone in the study reported that the sauna suits were as comfortable as regular workout clothes, and because they can be worn underneath normal clothes, study participants didn’t report feeling self-conscious in them.
“The study shows sauna suits, used safely and responsibly, may help people with obesity reap more of the health benefits of regular exercise,” Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D, ACE’s Chief Science Officer, told the NASDAQ GlobeNewsWire. “However, the real message behind the data is the importance of long-term adherence to physical-activity routines.” That said, if the idea of experiencing increased results with a sauna suit motivates you to stick to regular exercise for the long-haul, it could be a great tool, particularly if you’re just starting your get-fit journey.
Please note, however, that ACE cautions that wearing a sauna suit can be dangerous if done without professional guidance and supervision and that people with diabetes or other pre-existing conditions may be at increased risk of heat stress. Please pay attention to these dangerous signs you may be overheating or experiencing heat stroke, and here’s how to know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.