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Can Toning Clothing Really Make you Toner?

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slendertone-womens-toning-clothingIf the fitness hype regarding toning shoes weren't enough for you, there are now various lines of toning clothes that toning clothes manufacturers promise will "strengthen" your core, and tone your body by providing resistance during any movement.

Can your fitness apparel like toning clothes really make you look slimmer, tone your body, strengthen the core while offering a more effective workout?

Can Toning Clothing Really Make you Toner?

We have all heard about how exercise bands are an inexpensive yet effective way to strengthen and tone muscles. Now clothing manufacturers such as Reebok, Fila and ShaToBu have sewn resistance bands directly into exercise clothing and undergarments. Their idea is based on the premise that you will get a toning benefit anytime you move a muscle.

Despite massive marketing campaigns touting the amazing results, very little research has been done on these toning clothes. There is one independent study at University of Virginia that put resistance tights on 15 women and asked them to walk at a brisk pace on a treadmill as the incline was increased every few minutes. When the woman strolled along on the flat, they didn't burn any more calories than usual. However, when the upward climb was sufficiently steep, they burned significantly more calories -- up to 30 percent more.

The reason for the increased calorie burn at increasing inclines could be that the bands add a slight amount of resistance to the muscles in the front of the hips, causing them to Filai-toning-apparelwork a little harder. The front hip muscles always kick in and work overtime when you climb hills, so this seems logical.

Though this seems to be a solid study, it involved only 15 middle-aged women who walked for just 15 minutes on a treadmill. It would be nice to see a study with a larger, more diverse group of people. Also, what would happen if their workouts were longer or done on outdoor terrain?  Would this sort of training create muscle imbalances that lead to injury?

The Virginia study is the only independent study found on toning clothing, and it certainly hasn't convinced all the experts. Cedric Bryant, the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, remains skeptical. "In order for this type of garment to have any real appreciative effect, the bands would have to provide resistance levels so great it would significantly alter your mechanics," he said. "This could throw off things like your stride pattern, your landing and so forth, which could potentially expose you to injury."

Bryant also pointed out that clothing that doesn't offer a high degree of resistance isn't likely to increase calorie burn by very much. He noted there are much simpler -- and cheaper -- ways to bump up calorie burn. "I would suggest that people look for natural methods to increase caloric expenditure, like swinging your arms more actively, doing some interval training, adding hills to your workout or running on the beach."

Bryant does see the positive side of toning clothes. Many exercisers view them as fitness Spanx and wear them because they like the way they hold everything in place and minimize the jiggle. "If people feel better about themselves and exercise more because of it, then the clothing is a good purchase for them," Bryant reasoned.

I can also see where they might be useful for older people. Even some light resistance could help them preserve muscle tone, especially if they're still active. Bryant thought this was an interesting idea but said that if the clothing was so restrictive it threw off movement mechanics, it could lead to falls. He'd reserve the clothing for seniors who walk well and have a solid sense of balance.

Bottom Line on Can Toning Clothing Really Make you Toner?

Anytime you're promised something for nothing, you know it's too good to be true. Diet pills? Don't work. "Toning" shoes? Recent research reveals they don't work your muscles and may also put you at a higher risk of injury. No item of clothing will replace a good workout. You still have to exercise and eat right to get the results you want.

Are you sold on the concept of toning clothes? Let me know below!

Last modified on Monday, 13 February 2012 12:07
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