Lots of techniques promise results in exercise and fitness settings. A sauna suit is one of the “wonder tools” that mimics the effects of being in an actual dry sauna by helping your body sweat in a contained space. Before using sauna suits, weigh the benefits and the costs of using such materials in your exercise regime.
Sauna suits, or sauna sweat suits, are a favorite tool of athletes and body-builders during training routines. Some athletes, like boxers or wrestlers, use them regularly during exercise to maintain or drop pounds to a certain weight class quickly while working out before a match. The average health-conscious person may also use these during workouts to help burn more calories or lose water weight through sweating.
Most of these suits are nylon, plastic or vinyl rubberized to produce a comfortable suit that fits like a workout suit. Valeo, Everlast and Bally Total Fitness are popular companies that manufacture sauna suits that come in sets of a long-sleeved “sweatshirt” and “sweatpants.”
Health spas that have infrared dry saunas use a disposable sauna suit made from lightweight woven nylon. These are mostly for sanitary purposes, to keep the spa guests’ sweat from seeping directly into the wood sauna and creating a bacteria greenhouse. These serve a similar purpose of trapping the sweat in a contained space, but are not designed in the same way as an exercise sauna suit.
The purpose of using a sauna suit is to maximize sweating, which helps you lose weight in the form of electrolytes and water. As you sweat, the suit traps the heat inside, so your body works harder to sweat more and cool you down.
The primary dangers of a sauna suit arise because of what it’s designed to do. The suit traps heat around your body, causing you to sweat, so your body can actually overheat if you wear the suit too long and sweat too much. Dehydration is the most common problem. When your body loses more water than it gains in a short period of time, you increase the risk of dehydrating.
Losing electrolytes too fast or too frequently, as with sweating, can produce long-term damage to your kidneys.
Heat stroke is another problem with using these suits. Your core body temperature rises significantly, which is what produces sweat initially. However, because the materials trap the heat inside rather than releasing it into the air, as when you are in an actual sauna, your body temperature isn’t able to come down; you can overheat, thus eliciting a heat stroke reaction.
The best way to avoid these dangers is to refrain from using a sauna suit to exercise and concentrate on safer, longer lasting weight loss methods that balance diet and exercise. If you do use a sauna suit, make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your exercise routine. Don’t wear the suit for workouts in extremely hot temperatures, and do self-monitoring body checks to make sure you don’t feel lightheaded, short of breath or dizzy. Stop, remove the suit and cool your body down at an even rate should any of these occur.