Wearing wrist and ankle weights while walking, can increase the benefits. Strapped onto the exerciser’s wrists and/or ankles, the weights add resistance to movement. This added resistance makes movement more of an effort, so additional calories are burned.
Along with aiding weight loss, walking with ankle and wrist weights increases aerobic and muscle toning benefits, stamina, and endurance.
While there are faster ways to get into shape, walking is one of the most organic exercises we can do. Simple and with no equipment requirements, walking is ideal for anyone who wants to lose weight or prevent weight gain. A low-impact activity, it is suited to almost anyone, regardless of their current fitness level.
Though not recommended if you are just embarking on a walking program, if you’ve been exercising for a while and you feel your workouts aren’t benefitting you as much as they used to, incorporating weights will increase the challenge. And, you will be able to get these benefits without increasing your pace or the distance you cover.
In this article, we will look at how wearing wrist and ankle weights can improve your fitness. We will also discuss any possible risks and how to avoid them.
Wrist and Ankle Weights Weight Loss Benefits
According to research undertaken by the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, wearing wrist weights while walking burns additional calories. The study also proved that wearing wrist weights while walking improves cardiovascular health. This can result in greater weight loss, compared with people who don’t use wrist weights while walking for exercise.
There are some potential risks to using wrist and ankle weights during exercise. However, when strap on weights are used correctly, they can be very beneficial. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) wearing wrist weights of between 1 and 3 pounds when exercising, can elevate your heart rate by as much as ten beats per minute. As a result, you will burn up to 15% more calories.
While slightly less beneficial, wearing ankle weights of between 1 and 3 pounds can increase our heart rate by up to 5 beats per minute, and calorie burn by as much as 10%.
Wrist and Ankle Weights Muscle Toning Benefits
As with dumbbells, strap on weights provide a combination of cardiovascular and strength training, which helps build muscle.
Walking wearing wrist weights can be beneficial, due to our muscles contracting against the resistance the weight provides. This helps to develop muscle mass and increase endurance and strength. Balance and coordination are also likely to improve.
Wearing ankle weights while walking helps tone the calves and thighs, including our hamstrings, buttocks, and abs.
How to Start Using Wrist and Ankle Weights
When you first start wearing wrist and ankle weights, use light weights and keep your sessions short. Be sure to securely attach the weights to your wrists and ankles, and walk as you normally do. Taking very long steps and swinging your arms in an exaggerated fashion, can result in muscle strain.
If you want to try just one set of strap on weights, try ankle weights. The likelihood of ankle weights causing injury is lower than that of wrist weights. On the other hand, wrist weights that are too heavy, are linked to the possible development of RSI and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Potential Risks of Wearing Wrist and Ankle Weights When Walking
There is always the possibility of injury when exercising. Wearing ankle weights while walking tires the muscles faster. This places a strain on our ankles, hips and knee joints. Walking with ankle weights can also affect our gait, causing us to walk in an unnatural or unbalanced fashion. This can negatively affect posture, further putting our joints at risk of injury.
Wearing wrist weights that are too heavy can lead to muscle pain in the shoulders, upper chest and arms and joint pain in the wrists and elbows.
Avoiding Injuries When Walking with Wrist and Ankle Weights
If you have an injury or suffer from upper or lower body joint pain, strap on weights can exacerbate the problem. If you’re in doubt as to whether they will harm or benefit you, consult with your healthcare provider or a certified personal trainer.
If you are reasonably fit, you are not experiencing any joint pain and you want to try using wrist and ankle weights while walking, start with very light weights and only wear them for a few minutes at a time initially. You can increase the weight and length of time you wear them when you become stronger. Don’t wear strap on weights every time you walk. Doing so could strain your tendons, joints, and muscles.
Choose weights that enable you to walk with correct form and good posture. Walking will be awkward at first. This is normal. If, however, you experience pain, stop using the weights or try lighter ones.
If you are already using the lightest available strap on weights and you feel pain, look for other ways to increase the challenge and benefits of your workouts. This could involve forgoing ankle and wrist weights and see you carrying light hand weights. Another option is to ditch the weights entirely and walk for longer, walk at a faster pace or choose a route that has some hills.
Wrist and Ankle Weights Benefits Summary
Numerous health benefits can be attained from walking for between 20 and 60 minutes, at least 3 times a week. Walking is also a good way to shed some pounds and prevent weight gain.
No exercise is entirely risk-free. However, the potential benefits of wearing light ankle and wrist weights while walking, outweigh the risks. If you stick with weights in the 1 to 3-pound range, you will significantly boost your walk’s fitness benefits and be less likely to suffer an injury.
You may also like to read about The Benefits of Exercising with a Weighted Vest.