Walking is one of the best workouts around, but let’s face it – it can get pretty boring!  Whether you are walking around the neighborhood, circling the track at the high school football field, or using a treadmill, after some time you may feel like you are reaching a plateau and need to increase the intensity of your workout.  One option is to use weights while walking, but this practice can actually cause more harm than good.

Advocates of walking with weights say that using hand weights or ankle weights can burn more calories, build muscles faster, and contribute to an overall better level of fitness.  While these things are true, walking with weights can cause a much greater risk of injury.  Hand weights can cause injury to muscles and tendons and throw your balance off.  Even worse?  Ankle weights.  Using any type of weight around your ankles can cause serious back, hip, knee, and ankle injuries.  Ankle weights, like hand weights, can also make you unbalanced.  If you have any medical conditions such back problems, joint problems, high blood pressure, or circulatory problems, strapping on the weights before walking can be seriously dangerous.

Determined that you want to use weights with your walking regimen?  The best choice is a weighted vest or belt.  Weight evenly distributed around your torso will not interfere with your balance and is much less likely to cause muscle or joint pain or strain. Still use caution when using vests or belts; start light, build up the weight over a period of time, and don’t overdo it.

If you want a way to spice up the walking routine and see more results, no weights are necessary!  Make sure to change up the scenery often to avoid boredom, such as walking through different neighborhoods or in different parks.  To maximize the benefits of walking, work to increase the intensity:  add inclines when using a treadmill or seek out hills when walking outside, push yourself to walk a little longer each day, and try to increase your pace.  Easy, free, and good for you – walking can be a great workout for almost everyone!



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