What Are the Effects of Walking With Weights?

Walking—with no bells and whistles, just simply putting one foot in front of the other—has been repeatedly linked to improving overall health, including increasing lifespan. Even walking for just 15 minutes four times a week has been linked to living longer.

If you’re an avid walker and want to step up your game, increasing your speed isn’t the only option. Walking with weights can add extra benefits to your stroll. When it comes to walking with weights, there are several different types to choose from and it’s also important to consider the potential risks.

Related: 12 Trainers Share Their Favorite Workouts for Weight Loss—and Yes, Walking Counts!

What Are the Benefits of Walking With Weights?

Sarah Pelc Graca is a weight loss coach, NASM-certified trainer, and the founder of Strong With Sarah. She says that one of the benefits of walking with weights is that it increases the intensity, which in turn leads to a greater calorie burn. She says that it can also help strengthen muscles, because the added weight makes them work harder than they would without weights.

Like Pelc Graca, weight loss coach, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist Esther Avant says that incorporating weights into your walk makes muscles work a little bit harder, which can then make you stronger. “Walking with weights can help with activities of everyday living, as we often have to get from one place to another while carrying things in some way,” she says. When walking with weights becomes part of your routine, suddenly that bag of groceries or laundry basket won’t seem so heavy anymore.

Related: Want To Lose Weight Through Exercise? Try These 10 Workouts (No Equipment Required!)

Still, both experts say that there are risks to be aware of. Both point out that if you have weights in your hands, you aren’t able to catch yourself if you fall. This is especially important to be aware of if you struggle to maintain balance or if you are prone to falls due to a medical issue. Avant also says that if you have an injury, walking with weights could exacerbate the problem. For example, if you have weak ankles, it’s not a good idea to wear ankle weights on a walk.

“Adding resistance to your walks can add pressure and strain to your hips, knees and ankles, so be mindful if you are someone who is prone to lower body injuries,” Pelc Graca says. She also says that it’s important to maintain proper form while walking with weights to avoid muscle strain or injury. “Stand up straight, keep your core muscles slightly engaged, relax your shoulders and be sure that your toes and knees are pointed in the direction that you are walking,” she instructs.

If you think walking with weights can benefit you, what’s important to figure out next is the type of weights you want to use during your walks.

Related: Not Into HIIT? Walking Is Actually a Great Way to Lose Weight—and These Tips Will Help

Different Types of Weights To Consider

There are a few different ways to incorporate weights into your walk: light dumbbells, wrist weights, ankle weights or a weighted vest. Pelc Graca says that figuring out which one to go for depends on someone’s individual health goals. “If someone is looking to tone their legs, I'd recommend using ankle weights,” she says. But if your health goal is to sculpt your arm muscles, she says that wrist weights or holding light dumbbells will help. If you want to go for ankle weights, Avant says to make sure they’re not too bulky. Otherwise, they’ll affect your gait.

Both experts say that of all the options, wearing a weighted vest is the one they recommend the most because it helps distribute the added weight more evenly than hand or ankle weights do. “Wearing a weighted vest can help improve core and back strength,” Pelc Graca says. Avant points out that using a weighted vest also frees up your hands, which is safer if trip and fall.

Once you have your weights and are ready to get walking, you may be tempted to incorporate them into every single walk. But Pelc Graca recommends only using them one to three times a week. This will give your muscles time to repair and recover. If you don’t take this time, you will be more prone to strain and injury. “Be sure to keep the pace moderate,” she says. “Faster is not necessarily better when you add weights to your walks.”

Walking With Weights Workout

Below is a sample workout to try next time you want to walk with weights, straight from Pelc Graca:

1. If you can, walk for three to five minutes without any weights to get your body warmed up.

2. Pick up a light set of weights or weighted vest (1-3 lbs), and walk for five minutes.

3. Begin to work your way up to 15- to 20-minute-long weighted walks.

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4. To increase the intensity, slightly increase your pace while maintaining proper form.

Remember, walking without weights is still hugely beneficial for health. Incorporating weights is just one way to step it up. What’s most important is that you’re moving your body in a way that’s enjoyable. After all, with any luck, you’ll be doing it for many, many years to come. 

Next up, learn about the many benefits walking regularly has for both mental and physical health.

Sources

  • Sarah Pelc Graca, weight loss coach, NASM-certified trainer, and the founder of Strong With Sarah
  • Esther Avant, weight loss coach, certified sports nutritionist, and ACE-certified personal trainer 

— Update: 03-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Benefits (and Dangers) of Walking with Weights from the website www.endurancely.com for the keyword benefits of walking with weights.

Not sure about the benefits of walking with weights?

Are you eager to get in shape and lose some extra pounds but don’t feel like a gym is the best option?

Are you intimidated by heavy weights, grunting bodybuilders or pushy gym trainers?

Many people struggle to find a workout routine that is effective and can become a daily habit.  That’s why we often recommend walking as a great routine you can add to your busy day.

The problem is many folks often want to combine the weightlifting aspects of going to the gym with their daily walks.  This can be a great idea, but it can also be a very dangerous–if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That’s why I’ve put together all of the information I can find about the benefits and dangers of walking with weights to help you find a solution to your workout troubles.

Choosing the Proper Type of Weight for Walking

It is important to understand what I mean by walking with weights. You can use either free weights such as dumbbells and weighted balls that you hold in your hands or weights that strap to your wrists and ankles. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types, and it usually comes down to your level of comfort and preference.

Here are some links to various weights you might consider buying on Amazon:

Choosing the Proper Weight Amount

The amount of weight is a critical part of this exercise.

One advantage is that the weight can be tailored to just about anyone’s fitness level and endurance, but adding too much weight is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting this exercise.

Even if you are already quite fit, it is best not to go above three pounds for each weight, and light is better when starting out.

If you aren’t confident in your fitness level, then start with one pound weights and get a feel for the exercise.

Lighter than you expected?

Unlike weightlifting, which rewards heavy weight, the goal here is to increase calorie burn over time and provide your muscles with a little extra resistance.

When walking with weights, you are focused on the long-term calorie burn. On a 30 to 45 minute walk, a few extra pounds of weight can make a considerable difference.

Correct Form to Avoid Injury

The other important reason to use low weight is to avoid injury.

The most common injuries associated with this exercise are strains to the wrists and ankles and pain the back and shoulders, according to a Chron article.

This is almost always due to the use of excessive weight or incorrect form. Excess weight puts too much strain on your joints and muscles, especially if you are just starting the exercise routine. The added weight may also change your walking form and posture, which can lead to injury over time.

Correct walking form is incredibly important when walking with weights.

This brisk walking tutorial provides excellent and clear information for proper walking form. Although the person in this video is not using weights, the form described is important to keep in mind. It may even be a good idea to practice this correct form without any weight when first starting out.

Also, you should consider wearing the correct shoes while walking.  Here are the shoes that we recommend:

Achieving a Full-Body Workout While Walking

Now that you understand how to properly walk with weights and avoid injury, lets talk about why this really helps you get in shape.

Walking is easy, and just about everyone can do it. While walking without weights is perfectly beneficial, the added weight elevates the exercise to a new level. A key change is in the upper body workout. Walking, like running and jogging, works primarily the lower body and a little bit of the core, leaving the arms, chest and shoulders with a lot less to do.

Benefits of walking with weights
While walking without weights is perfectly beneficial, the added weight elevates the exercise to a new level.

If walking is your primary form of exercise, then your upper body strength can suffer. Adding weights to your arms and ankles helps give your upper body a better workout and balances the nature of the exercise.

A great way to enhance the work your upper body does is to be particularly active with your arms and shoulders while walking. This tends to work best with free-hand weights. You can incorporate biceps, triceps and shoulder workouts all while walking. This master instructor provides a short tutorial video on how to get a little extra arm workout while walking.

Walking with weights can be done both indoors and outdoors, and it can be integrated into a slightly more intense full-body workout. This great video provides a tutorial for a full beginner workout so you can see how a simple pair of walking dumbbells can be used to maximum effect in your own home.

Calorie Burn

Walking is generally considered to be a light to moderate form of exercise. It is easy on your body, but it is also light when it comes to calorie burn. Increasing calorie burn is one of the biggest advantages to adding weights to a walking workout, according to a healthy living article. Even if you don’t do anything special with the workout, the added weight will naturally cause you to burn more calories in the same amount of time.

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Improving Cardio

Cardio goes hand-in-hand with calorie burn. By increasing the weight and intensity of the workout, you are increasing the overall work your heart has to do to keep your muscles adequately supplied with oxygen and nutrients. Walking with weights should increase your overall heart rate and may get you to sweat a little bit.

Cardio strength is very important for your overall health. A strong heart will last longer and be much less prone to heart disease. It can also help lower your blood pressure. Your overall endurance and physical ability is strongly dictated by your cardio strength, so increasing this makes you more active and fit even if you aren’t greatly increasing your muscle mass.

The Importance of Endurance-Based Training

The advantage of the long-term duration of walking helps build your body’s endurance. Unlike the short bursts of strength needed in heavy weight lifting, walking with weights forces your body to keep up the pace for the long haul.

Endurance training is good for your body and your muscles in a variety of ways. It increases overall muscle strength without the strain heavy weights or bursts of activity put on your body. Like in the rabbit and hare story, slow and steady wins the race, in this case, a race to your fitness goals.

Walking with weights in an easy and effective exercise that is accessible to just about anyone. It is flexible and can be adapted to a variety of activities and it is generally safer and easier on your body compared to weightlifting or more intensive activities. Now that you understand walking with weights, you can go out and use this great method to achieve your fitness goals once and for all.

All set? Here’s what you need to get started walking with weights:

If you have any other questions about this activity, please leave a comment below.

Sources:

[1] [2] [3] [4]

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Benefits of walking with weights

— Update: 03-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Benefits Of Walking With Weights + 5 Safety Tips To Get Started from the website marathonhandbook.com for the keyword benefits of walking with weights.

Going for a walk is one of the simplest, yet still quite effective, ways to exercise.

Walking Is associated with many positive physical and mental health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and functioning, reduced blood pressure, increased strength of the muscles in the lower body, decreased anxiety, elevated mood, and a decreased risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Walking is also a great way to burn calories, increasing your daily energy expenditure to help support healthy body weight and composition.

There are also ways to increase the intensity of your walking workouts to burn more calories and augment some of the fitness benefits gleaned through them. For example, some people tackle incline walking or Nordic walking, while other people decide to walk with weights.

There are several benefits of walking with weights, whether wearing a weighted vest or walking with dumbbells in your hands.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of walking with weights and how to walk with weights to boost your fitness.

We will cover: 

  • What Does Walking With Weights Entail?
  • Benefits of Walking With Weights
  • Can I Walk With Weights?
  • How to Safely Walk With Weights

Let’s get started!

Benefits of walking with weights

What Does Walking With Weights Entail?

If you are interested in walking with weights, there are several different approaches you can take.

Walking with weights can involve walking in a weighted vest, walking with wrist weights or ankle weights, or walking with dumbbells in your hands. 

Some people even combine several different weighted accessories at once. For example, you might walk with a weighted vest and hold light dumbbells that you swing as you walk.

Benefits of Walking With Weights

The primary purpose of walking with weights is to increase the intensity of the exercise, elevate your heart rate, boost the metabolic cost so that you burn more calories, and increase the workload on your muscles to build strength.

This makes walking with weights a more efficient workout per minute while still being a lower-impact activity rather than a vigorous type of exercise like running.

Additionally, depending on where you add the weight to your body, walking with weights can help strengthen and tone the upper body more than regular walking, particularly if you use wrist weights or walk with dumbbells in your hands.

Walking in a weighted vest also increases the impact force when you land, so your bones respond by laying down a denser matrix of minerals. Therefore, walking in a weighted vest can also increase bone density.

Benefits of walking with weights

Can I Walk With Weights?

Walking is a low-impact aerobic exercise that is safe and appropriate for most people, as long as you do not have an acute or chronic injury that prevents weight-bearing exercise.

Walking with weights can be appropriate for you as long as you feel fit and strong enough to increase the intensity of your workout. The particular type of weight you choose to walk with will depend on your goals. Here are the four primary options for walking with weights and the pros and cons of each:

#1: Weighted Vest

Walking in a weighted vest is one of the best ways to safely intensify your walking workout. 

Read more  The Benefits (and Dangers) of Walking with Weights

Because the weighted vest surrounds your chest and core, the added weight is centralized around your center of mass, reducing any torque or undue pull on your limbs from a displaced weight.

Walking in a weighted vest will not increase muscle activation in the arms, but it will boost the intensity of the exercise overall because your effective body weight is higher. 

Additionally, because the weight is located above the hips and pelvis, the muscles in your legs will have to work harder as if your body weight were that much higher.

Of all the choices of ways to walk with weights, wearing a weighted vest is typically the safest and most effective. Plus, you can buy an adjustable weighted vest that goes up to 20 pounds or more, so you can often add a significant amount of weight to your body.

Benefits of walking with weights

#2: Wrist Weights

Wrist weights are usually small, flexible weights that secure around your wrist.

They tend to be fairly light, but as long as you pump your arms vigorously as you walk, walking with wrist weights can activate the muscles in your chest, upper back, and arms for more of a total-body workout.

#3: Ankle Weights

Running with ankle weights used to be extremely popular, but there is evidence to suggest that it may increase the risk of injury because the additional weight is located at the bottom of the kinetic chain.

According to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic, brisk walking with ankle weights is not recommended.

Because the lever arm from your hip is so long and the weight is located far from your joints, walking in ankle weights can potentially cause hip pain, knee pain, or even ankle pain.

Benefits of walking with weights

#4: Dumbbells 

Walking with dumbbells in your hand is another way to better activate the muscles in your upper body.

Vigorously pumping your arms and bringing the dumbbells back and forth along the sides of your body will strengthen the muscles in the upper back, chest, and arms.

Just be sure that you are not taking extremely long walks or using dumbbells that are too heavy, as this can put excessive stress on the neck and shoulders.

How to Safely Walk With Weights

It’s important that you don’t suddenly jump into walking with heavy weights or doing long walks with weights, even if they are light.

You need to build up gradually and give your muscles, bones, and joints time to adapt.

Here are some safety tips for walking with weights:

Benefits of walking with weights

#1: Start with every other day

If you walk for exercise most days of the week, begin your routine of walking with weights by just including the additional weights every other day.

This will give your body time to adapt and recover between workouts and will give you time to assess and make sure that no physiological structures are bothering you after your walks. 

For example, if you are walking with ankle weights, you might notice knee pain or quadricep pain that doesn’t develop for a few days. Separating your workouts with weights by a day or two will help you better gauge how your body is responding.

#2: Begin with light weights

If you are using a weighted vest or another form of adjustable weights, begin with lighter weights and then start walking with heavier weights as your body adjusts and gets stronger.

Benefits of walking with weights

#3: Start small

Start by walking with weights for just 15 to 20 minutes per day until that feels easy and you are not experiencing any post-workout muscle soreness or joint pain.

Then, progress to 20 to 30 minutes, 30 to 40 minutes, and so on, until you are doing your entire walk with weights.

#4: Use good form

The risk of injury increases when walking with weights, particularly if you are using poor form. 

Make sure that you have good posture, with an upright torso, neutral spine, shoulders back and down, gaze forward, and stride even and light. 

If you are using wrist weights or walking with dumbbells, pump your arms, swinging them back and forth along the sides of your body rather than front and back, crossing over the midline of your trunk.

If you are walking with dumbbells, keep your grip loose and relaxed so as not to build up excessive tension in your shoulders and neck.

Benefits of walking with weights

#5: Buy the right gear

If you intend to be walking with weights frequently, getting the best weights for walking is certainly a valuable investment.

Our pick for the best weighted vest for walking is the OMORPHO Smart Weighted Vest. This weighted vest is far more comfortable than traditional weighted vests because it conforms to the shape of your body and moves seamlessly with you. 

The OMORPHO Smart Weighted Vest is also digitally connected, helping you get the most out of your workouts and making it much more engaging to use and track your walks.

The best wrist weights for walking and general fitness are the Bala Bangles. They are stylish, and comfortable and come in several attractive colors. You can buy Bala Bangles as 1-pound or 2-pound wrist weights.

Walking with weights can be a great way to increase the intensity of your walking workouts to accelerate your fitness progress, burn more calories, and strengthen your muscles.

However, it’s important to ease into walking with weights gradually and to consider the best type of weight for your body, fitness, and goals.

If you are just starting your walking workout journey, check out our walking guides for guidance and tips!

Benefits of walking with weights

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi