This Living, Breathing Exercise Suit Will Keep You Cool During Your Workouts

Because, science!

exercise suit
Image: MIT/Hannah Cohen

We’ve come a long way since women worked out in petticoats in the 1800s. Now, we get to exercise in activewear that is not only comfy and stylish, but is specifically designed to help us get the most out of our workouts. From compression tights to improve endurance to fitness-tracking running shoes, high-tech workout gear is everywhere.

But according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. They’ve announced they’ve designed something really cool (literally) that will make your favourite pair of sweat-wicking leggings look prehistoric.

The scientists have created a breathable workout suit with ventilation flaps that adjust with your temperature as you exercise. The biohybrid material is filled with bacteria that senses bacteria. So, it opens the flaps when you get your sweat on and closes them once you cool down. Basically, the workout suit breathes with you — as if it’s alive!

The researchers created the material by printing microbial cells onto a layer of latex. And according to a statement they’ve released, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ‘living’ activewear.

This work is an example of harnessing the power of biology to design new materials and devices and achieve new functions. We believe this new field of ‘living’ materials and devices will find important applications at the interface between engineering and biological systems.

MIT associate professor Xuanhe Zhao.

As for what this alien-esque workout suit actually feels like when you wear it? The paper’s lead author, Wen Wang reports that wearing the suit while pedaling on a stationary bike “felt like I was wearing an air conditioner on my back.” There’s no word yet on when the researchers plan to make the suit available to the public, but we’re hoping it comes just in time for summer!