Walking with Weights is a Bad Idea

Walking with Weights is a Bad Idea

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.


Handweights Dumbbells

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About Hand Weights





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  1. John 13 years ago

    I don’t buy this non-sense. I’ve lost 8 pounds in a month simply walking anywhere from 1 to 3 miles every other day at the track, carrying a 5 lb weight in each hand. I do curls while walking in high reps (about 200 per day). I have moved up to carrying 10 pounds in each hand. My shoulders, biceps, abs and back have significantly toned, and I am getting stronger.
    Obviously, if you can’t handle the weight you are trying to carry you are going to hurt yourself.

    • Brad 11 years ago

      I agree with John, I’ve been walking with 5lb weights (one in each hand) for years. No injurys no problems. In fact, I had a shoulder injury once after falling with an AC unit and working out with these weights during my walks has completely healed my shoulder. Dr. wanted to do surgery back then and i said no. I’m all better now without surgery.

  2. V 13 years ago

    It’s not nonsense at all, maybe you should read it again. Carrying weights while walking throws off your stride and it has long-term effects on your joints, tendons, and ligaments. If your knees are made of steel, then keep your routine. If not, carrying weights while walking will hurt you in the long run.

  3. Martha 10 years ago

    This article is poor. Walking with weights is beneficial for various reasons. Of course, if you are unfit and weak then you do not want to start long walks with additional weights attached to your limbs from session 1. However, when you want to keep your workout interesting this is more than an acceptable way to do it.
    For years I have been walking miles with weights gaining strong muscles and ligaments which now prevent me from injuries.

  4. PJ 10 years ago

    Not true. I have lost 20 pounds in 9 weeks walking approximatly 2 miles daily wearing five pound ankle wieghts with no problems. I’m not sure who this article is aimed at but in my opinion, if you are fit to start with wieght walking will not hurt you.

  5. Frank 9 years ago

    I do not agree with the author either. I just turned 51. When I turned 50 I decided to get in better shape, I weighed 224lbs at the time. I start a moderate healthy diet and started walking every morning. I started with 1.5 miles, then 3, then 4 miles. When 4 miles got too easy, I added ankle weights and scaled back my walking. When my walking with the ankle weights got easier, I bought a weighted vest, and gradually worked my way up to wearing the vest with 40 lbs in it. Now, a year later, I’m wearing the vest and the ankle weights for my walks. I now weight 175 and have gotten in pretty darn good shape. I’ve discovered leg muscles I neve knew I had.

    Anyhow, I consider weighted walking a large part of my success.

  6. Juby 9 years ago

    I have been walking 5 miles per day, 6 days a week for over a decade. I walk at a 10 minute/mile pace. In order to get some weight-bearing exercise for my arms, I recently added 8 pound hand weights (4 pounds each hand) to my routine. After the first session my knees started hurting. I am physically fit, but the added 8 pounds threw off my stride and put extra pressure on my knees. I have since quit using the walking weights and switched to using free weights after my walk. So for me, walking with weights was a bad idea, but your mileage may vary.

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