Feel like your clothes haven’t done enough for you lately? Well, a number of clothing manufacturers including FILA and Reebok are now selling garments that promise to work for you by toning and sculpting your body.

Using polyester and spandex to create resistance to muscle movement, this athletic wear is advertised to increase your workout efficiency by 50 percent. Jon Epstein, president of FILA USA calls it “a fitness revolution.” But does it actually work? Or, is this just another chink in the long chain of crazy fitness trends we seem to love so much?Wonder Sauna Hot Pants ad circa 1970s

Did You Know?
There is an increasing, global trend toward living a lifestyle with decreased physical demands.

There is virtually no evidence available to prove that these clothes actually work. A small study was conducted at the University of Virginia looking at the effectiveness of tights marketed as ‘shaper undergarments’ by ShaToBu. The study found that these garments increased the energy cost of everyday activities including walking uphill and climbing stairs. The researchers only looked at 15 middle aged women walking for 15 minutes on a treadmill, so this study doesn’t exactly qualify as iron-clad proof that this type of clothing lives up to the hype.

Cedric Bryant of the American Council on Exercise warns that for this clothing to have a real impact on your workout, the bands would have to offer such high resistance that it would modify the way you move. Changes in how you land, your stride pattern, and other aspects of your workout could actually cause injury.

Reebok and FILA’s lines are relatively low resistance, and Bryant suggests that their claimed calorie burning benefits could be mimicked by simply swinging your arms harder when you run or increasing the incline on your treadmill.

Getting into these clothes can be a bit of a workout, but after that the rest is up to you. Your clothes can’t ride your bike or do sit-ups, not yet anyway.

Did You Know?
According to the World Health Organization, youth aged 5 to 17 need at least one hour of moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.

On the other hand, wearing something that makes you look and feel good could encourage you to work out. Wearing clothes that make you look fit may, in fact, improve your motivation to actually get fit. While the effects here are mainly psychological, feeling good about being active is an important factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Learn More!

Reebok Easy Tone






WHO: Obesity. World HealthOrganization. http://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/.Accessed May 16, 2011.

WHO: Diet and Physical Activity. WorldHealth Organization. http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_young_people/en/index.html.Accessed May 16, 2011.

Article first published June 1, 2011

Britney Jones

Britney earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, majoring in biological sciences and minoring in psychology. She then went on to receive a Master’s degree in Biomedical Technology, where she developed a keen interest in health advocacy research. Britney spent two years as a member of the Clinical Research team at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Currently, she is in her third year of medical school. 

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