Newly Released Research Answers: How Safe and Effective Is Wearing a Sauna Suit While Exercising?

Posted: Oct 31, 2017 in ACE Press Releases

American Council on Exercise-commissioned study investigates whether exercise in a body heat-retaining suit will yield more health benefits than exercise alone

San Diego, October 31, 2017 — With more than 2 in 3 adults in the U.S. considered overweight, there is an always-growing demand for products, diets and exercise programs to help people shed pounds, often with disappointing results. Are claims that exercising in a neoprene "sauna suit" helps burn more calories and yield additional health benefits accurate or simply too good to be true? As part of its mission to get people moving, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) commissioned a study investigating whether sauna suits could help people struggling with obesity achieve healthy weight loss at an expedited rate.

The results of the leading health and fitness nonprofit's eight-week study may leave skeptics pleasantly surprised. The study, performed by Lance C. Dalleck, Ph.D., and his team of researchers at Western State Colorado University, involved 45 obese or overweight participants with sedentary lifestyles. Participants were divided into three groups: (1) those who exercised five days a week for 45 minutes while wearing a sauna suit, (2) those who performed an identical exercise program without a sauna suit, and (3) those who did not exercise at all. Before and after the program, researchers measured a number of indicators of health, from blood pressure to body-fat percentage.

After eight weeks, researchers measured significant health improvements in both of the groups that exercised. However, participants who wore the sauna suit experienced greater improvement in a few key areas, most significantly 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. Those who wore the sauna suit experienced an 11.7 percent increase in VO2max, while those who exercised without the suit saw a 7.3 percent increase. Those who exercised with the sauna suit 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.    

In addition to physical benefits, the study also tracked participants’ reported comfort levels in the sauna suit. Researchers report that all study participants said the sauna suits were as comfortable as regular workout clothes. Because they can be worn underneath normal clothes, study participants didn’t report feeling self-conscious.

"The study shows sauna suits, used safely and responsibly, may help people with obesity reap more of the health benefits of regular exercise," says American Council on Exercise Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, PhD. "However, the real message behind the data is the importance of long-term adherence to physical-activity routines. After following an exercise program for eight weeks, study participants with and without the sauna suit improved their health in important ways. 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. If not, you don’t need it to see the benefits of daily movement."

American Council on Exercise cautions that exercising in sauna suits, or in any hot environment, can be dangerous if done without professional guidance and supervision. Heat stress is especially dangerous for people with diabetes or other pre-existing conditions.

To view the complete study, please click here.

About ACE

With a mission to get people moving, the nonprofit organization American Council on Exercise (ACE) educates, certifies and represents more than 70,000 currently certified fitness professionals, health coaches and other allied health professionals. ACE advocates for a new intersection of fitness and healthcare, bringing the highly qualified professionals ACE represents into the healthcare continuum so they can contribute to the national solution to physical inactivity and obesity. ACE is the leading certifier in its space and all four of its primary certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), the gold standard in the United States for accreditation of certifications that assess professional competence. ACE also plays an important public-service role, conducting and providing science-based research and resources on safe and effective physical activity and sustainable behavior change. For more information, call 800-825-3636 or visit AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise.

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