Walking briskly burns calories, trims fat and works the heart, but after you’ve walked for a few weeks it becomes less challenging as muscle adaptation occurs. To burn more calories and tone muscles, some people walk with weights strapped to their legs or carry them in their hands. Is it a good idea to walk with weights?
Walking with Weights: Is Walking with Ankle Weights a Good Idea?
Walking with ankle weights may seem like a good way to tone the legs and butt – and it’s true that you’ll work those muscles a little harder – but wearing ankle weights also throws off your alignment and balance and increases the risk of injury. It also places more stress on your knees, hips, and ankles. Ankle weights were designed to be used in the gym – not while you’re walking or running. The slight increase in calorie burn and toning you get when you walk wearing ankle weights isn’t worth the risk of injury.
Walking with Weight: What About Hand Weights?
Believe it or not, walking with hand weights doesn’t offer much in the way of toning benefits, but it can strain tendons and ligaments. Like walking with ankle weights, walking with hand weights throws off your alignment and increases the risk of injury. It may even work against you from a calorie burning standpoint. When you’re carrying hand weights, you’ll walk slower which means you’ll get less of a cardiovascular workout. Hand weights are best used as they were intended ‘” while you’re stationary.
Alternatives to Walking with Weights
A better option for increasing the calorie burn and tone muscles at the same time is to walk hills. This does a better job of toning your thighs and calves than walking with ankle weights. Start out slowly and gradually increase the number of hills you tackle and the speed with which you walk them.
Another option to burn more calories walking without using weights is to wear a weighted vest. This distributes the additional weight evenly and is less likely to cause alignment problems. Once you buy the vest you can gradually add more weight as you become fitter. Walking with a weighted vest not only burns more calories, it also builds bone density.
A final option is to walk with walking poles. Using walking poles burns significantly more calories, yet it doesn’t feel like you’re working that much harder. Walking with walking poles also helps with balance and provides additional muscle toning. They give better benefits than walking with weights, and they’re a whole lot safer.
The Bottom Line?
Walking with weights isn’t a good idea. Try using a weighted vest, walking poles, or run a few hills to burn more calories. Then head over to the gym and do some resistance training – with your feet firmly planted on the ground.