The Sauna Suit — Is it for you?

The sauna suit — in one form or another — has been around for at least 50 years! If you’re wondering what it’s really good for and how to compare it to using an actual sauna, read on.

On this page:

• What is a sauna suit?
• How does it work?
• Comparing the suits to portable saunas
• Sweating in a suit vs. sweating in a sauna - what's the difference?
• Is a sauna suit safe? And can one be used in a sauna?

What is a Sauna Suit?

A sauna suit is a two-piece suit — a long sleeve top and full-length pants — that is most often used by a athletes who want to promote an intense sweat.

Athletes use them to cut weight quickly, and to train under high stress conditions(push themselves)during workouts.

My sister-in-law was an Olympic-level gymnast in China. She remembers that whenever the trainers felt one of the girls needed to cut some weight quickly, they would have them put on one of these suits and jog for an hour or so around the school track...

...which leads us to the most common question about sauna suits: "Do sauna suits help you lose weight?" You'll find the answer to this two sections below. Before that, we'll describe how these suits work.

How sauna suits work

Sauna suits work by trapping your body’s naturally-generated heat. This contained heat promotes sweating as your body attempts to cool itself down. (When sweat evaporates on the surface of the skin it has a cooling effect.) In a sauna suit, though - where the skin is cut off from the surrounding air and body heat is trapped - the cooling effect of the sweat mechanism is a lot less effective....so you sweat all the more!

Furthermore, since the body can't cool itself off well when the skin is covered, body temperature will start to rise. A rise in body temperature increases metabolism and calorie-burning. This is especially true if the user is exercising while wearing the suit - which is generally the case.

What is achieved by exercising in a sauna suit, then?1. Weight loss through sweating - which is temporary but helpful if you are trying to make a certain weight division in your sport and are a little over the cut-off point. 2. A cardiovascular effect - the heart has to work harder to deliver blood to the surface of the skin (not to mention all the working muscles) where sweat will be secreted in an attempt to cool off.3. Increased calorie-burning during the work-out.

The dangers of using a sauna suit, if the user isn't careful, are:1. Dehydration - which, if severe, can kill you. 2. Loss of minerals in the sweat - which can cause cramping and, when not adequately replaced, health issues including arrhythmias.3. Heat stroke or heat exhaustion.Read more on this topic on our dangers of the sauna page which, although written on infrared saunas, will give you a great overview of sauna sweating dangers in general .

Buying a sauna suit - things to consider

The silver-colored sauna suits of the 1970’s made the user look like a spaceman, but the suits have evolved and there are now a lot more choices available. Sauna suits may be constructed out of a plastic or vinyl material, a tightly woven, treated fabric, or a blend of natural and synthetic materials.

The most common materials used to make sauna suits are vinyl, rubberized vinyl, EVA fabric, nylon, neoprene, and cotton with a synthetic inner liner.

The highest quality suits will last through the most abusive types of workouts, including wrestling practice, sparring, weight lifting, running, and biking in wet saunas.

Lower quality sauna suits are more apt to tear and can fall-apart while being removed after a workout. Some say you may as well modify a garbage bag into a home-made sauna suit and save your money rather than buy a junky one!

Features to look for in a sauna suit include: elasticized cuffs at the waist and ankles on pants (to keep your body heat in), elasticized cuffs and waistbands on jackets, drawstrings that you can tie at the waist (if the waist of the garment isn't elasticized), zippers that are durable and rust resistant, if present.
Portable saunas - one step beyond the sauna suit.