Every so often, you'll notice someone at the gym clad in a sauna suit, running on the treadmill and sweating buckets. It's easily to get fooled into thinking that the sauna suit is helping this person shed pounds like a cat sheds hair, but this belief is a common weight-loss myth. Although using a treadmill helps you burn calories, the sauna suit doesn't speed up the process and carries several health risks.
Sauna suits are typically made of nylon or neoprene and are designed to increase your core temperature during a workout. When you're hotter, you'll sweat profusely, but sweating is not related to the burning of calories. When you sweat, all you're losing is water weight, which you'll immediately replace as soon as you rehydrate after your workout. Wearing a sauna suit is not an effective way to burn calories to help you lose fat.
Sauna Suit Risks
In addition to a sauna suit not helping you burn calories during a workout, wearing one also carries a handful of health risks. Wearing a sauna suit carries such potential risks as overheating, dehydration, kidney damage due to the severe loss of electrolytes in your body, and overall exhaustion. If you plan to use a sauna suit, consult with your doctor to determine if you're healthy enough to do so.
Sauna suits are prevalent among athletes who take part in fighting sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts and wrestling. When a fighter needs to make weight for an upcoming fight, she might work out vigorously in a sauna suit to rapidly drop a couple of pounds if she is too heavy. As soon as the fighter makes weight for the fight, she'll rehydrate her body to restore the lost fluid.
You don't need to slip into a sauna suit to burn calories on a treadmill; whether you're walking or running, you're already burning calories during this exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that healthy adults should strive for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, and using a treadmill helps you meet this goal. A 155-pound person who walks at 3.5 miles per hour will burn 149 calories during a 30-minute workout, but if the same person can run for 30 minutes at 7.5 miles per hour, she'll burn 465 calories.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.