Neoprene is a type of synthetic rubber that has many uses, including being used for exercise gear in the form of a "sauna suit." The idea is to elevate your body temperature and raise the intensity of your workout -- though using one of these suits is not without its risks. If you're going to use a neoprene suit to work out, you can do any type of exercise you normally do -- except swimming -- but follow some general guidelines to avoid heat stress or heat stroke.
Drink lots of water. Up to 30 minutes before your workout, drink as much water as you can, to the point of feeling almost bloated, advises the American Council on Exercise. During your workout, drink about 6 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise. If your workout is longer than 60 minutes -- which it probably shouldn't be when you're just getting started in your suit -- you can also drink a sports drink to stay hydrated.
Warm up for at least five minutes. This will make sure your heart rate does not go up too quickly. Choose a light cardiovascular exercise such as walking or cycling slowly, and do it every time.
Take it easy. When you first start using a neoprene suit, you're going to get really hot, really fast. As such, you won't be able to work out as long as you're used to. Start out doing less intense and shorter bouts of exercise, and gradually work up to close to your normal routine. Ten to 14 days should be enough time for your body to acclimate, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Break your regular workout into two smaller workouts, so you're still getting the benefit of the extended time, but you're not putting too much stress on your body.
Cool down for at least five minutes, again doing light exercise such as walking or cycling slowly. This allows your heart rate to return to normal more gradually.
- Talk to your doctor before you start on any intense exercise regimen to be sure you're in the proper shape for such an intense workout.
- Stop working out if you start to feel nauseous, fatigued or dizzy, because these are signs that you may be undergoing heat stress.
- Avoid using any type of sauna suit when the outside temperatures are very warm, advises the American Council on Exercise, because that could put you at increased risk of heat stress or stroke.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.