Devan E. Haney1, Abigail Owen1, Jennifer S. Fargo1, Samantha N. Harrison1, Margaret K. Chevalier1, Christina A. Buchanan1, Lance C. Dalleck1. Health-Related Benefits of Exercise Training with a Sauna Suit: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. 1High Altitude Exercise Physiology Program, Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO, USA.
Purpose: Worldwide, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has more than doubled in adults. This epidemic is associated with many cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. Training strategies exist for weight reduction, one of which is heat stress. Evidence has shown that exercise combined with heat therapy provides cardiovascular health benefits. Research is lacking on the use of a heat stress on health parameters for overweight or obese individuals. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effect of health-related benefits associated with exercise training using a sauna suit in a cohort of overweight and obese individuals. Methods: Overweight or obese, sedentary, but low risk men and women (n=45) were randomized to the non-exercise control group or one of the two training groups. Exercise training was five days a week for eight-weeks. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were 45 minutes long training sessions at a moderate intensity based on an individual’s heart rate reserve (HRR). Tuesdays and Thursdays were 30 minute long spin classes at a vigorous intensity based on an individual’s HRR and were instructed by the principle investigator. Results: 45 men and women completed the study. After eight-weeks, V̇O2max increased significantly (p<0.05) in the sauna suit with exercise group (ESS) when compared to the exercise alone (E) and control groups. Repeated measures ANOVA also showed a significant (p<0.05) improvement in body mass, body fat, blood glucose, RMR, and fat oxidation in the ESS group when compared to the E and control groups. Conclusions: A sauna suit in conjunction with exercise: 1) elicited significantly greater improvements in V̇O2max, and 2) significantly improved obesity associated health parameters, which include: body mass, body fat, blood glucose, RMR, and fat oxidation. The novel findings of the present study suggest that a portable heat stress may improve health parameters in overweight or obese.