A new type of exercise apparel may actually help you burn calories - just by wearing them. By incorporating mesh panels and resistance bands into shorts and pants, a person could increase calorie loss and heart rate.
The New York City startup company, Physiclo, was founded by Frank Yao, a New York University medical student. Yao initially came up with the idea as a potential physical rehabilitation tool. He says that, “The purpose was to combine resistance into clothing to help people with sedentary lifestyles achieve a minimum baseline of exercise in a way that didn't require a large behavioral change. The idea of using resistance bands stems from the same principles used in physical therapy, except in a more convenient, ergonomic form.”
With his medical knowledge of the human body and some computer modeling, Yao designed the clothing to include strategically placed stretchy bands to create resistance for various muscle groups. Some bands and paneling overlap to enable resistance in multiple directions. The placement of the material works in such a way that when a person uses a muscle or muscle group, the bands and panels push back, requiring more work to complete the movement.
And you don’t have to worry about the apparel harming your joints. The clothes’ resistance bands are both gentle and effective in building strength of certain muscle groups.
Yao and his classmates tested a prototype of the pants at the medical school. Control groups wore athletic clothing that was tight to the body and test groups wore Physiclo pants. The subjects’ heart rates and muscle activation was measured. As part of the study, the subjects ran or walked on treadmills while hooked up to electrodes and pulse oximeters. The study participants also performed various exercises, including squats and lunges.
Yao found that those wearing Physiclo had a 14% increase in calorie burn and a 20-23% increase in muscle activation. Essentially, by working out for 45 minutes, a person wearing the pants received the benefit of a 60-minute workout.
David Stern, the former commissioner of the National Basketball Association, pointed out that since college and professional athletes already have access to excellent training equipment, he proposed Yao and his team focus instead on marketing the clothes to everyday athletes: the millions of runners and gym-goers who, in 2014, spent $1.93 billion on fitness apparel.
Lorenzo Gonzalez, a professor of physical therapy at the University of Miami noted that, “With resistance bands, when you’re doing something with hip extension or flexion, whatever movements you’re working on are limited. But when you’re wearing the shorts, you can actually have all those muscles firing throughout an entire session.”