Walking with Weights is a Bad Idea
Walking with hand weights is a bad idea, walking with ankle weights is an even worse idea. Just because it may be a bad idea to walk with weights does not mean you should not add weight training to your walking program.
We have all seen people swinging weights while they are walking. Most likely they think they are burning more calories, but the fact is they would be better off dropping the weights and walking further or faster or both.
Walking with free weights can increase your blood pressure which is never a good thing. It also increases your risk of injury to tendons, ligaments, muscles and possibly your joints. Since many of us who walk are doing so because it is less stressful on our bodies than running, walking with weights makes no sense. Walking with ankle weights drastically increases your risk of knee injuries.
Many people advocate using the new walking vests now available, but let’s face it, in the summer who wants to strap on a weighted vest. For those of us living in the south, we will pass out from heat exhaustion long before our joints start to ache if we add an extra 5 or 10 pounds to our waists.
Having said that… you should add weight training to your walking program. Adding weight training to any exercise program has many benefits. Weight training will increase your metabolism so you burn more calories, strengthen bones (particularly important for women) and increase your strength and flexibility which will make you less susceptible to injuries.
If you are going to combine walking and weight training in one work-out there are two good options. The first is to go for your walk, walking fast enough to increase your heart rate and then do your weight training. If you work out at a health club it is easy to walk on a treadmill and then go over to the weight area. If you walk near your house you can purchase a basic set of weights. Hand weights are inexpensive and do not take up much room in your house. I keep my weights in the garage so I see them every time I walk to my car so I can feel a twinge of guilt that I am neither walking to my destination nor am I working with my weights.
The other option is one that I often use, no matter how silly it makes me look. I walk quickly for 10 to 15 minutes near my house, returning to my driveway where I will do several weight training exercises, then another walk, returning for another session of weight training. Not only am I getting my exercise but I am also entertaining my neighbors.
As with any exercise program ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program, have a knowledgeable person show you the proper technique to use when lifting weights and start slow. You can add weight as you get stronger.
I like the weights shown below because they are smooth in your hands, they don’t slip when you start to sweat and most importantly you can clean them with soap and water or a disinfectant.
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