Ankle weights and strength training are an essential part of a balanced exercise program. When you think of lifting weights, the image that usually comes to mind is weightlifters in the gym with big, strong muscles. However, your muscles are not the only thing that grows and gains strength with ankle weights and weight training. Your bones benefit as well.
Bone mineral density, or BMD, is how strong your bones are. Age, certain medications and conditions such as osteoporosis affect the density of your bones. As your bones lose density, you may notice a loss in height or find that you are more prone to bone fractures. Regular exercise and weight-bearing activities help maintain and even increase bone density, reducing your risk of injury.
Studies have looked at the connection between bone density and strengthening exercises. The Bone Estrogen Strength Training (BEST) Study conducted with funding from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases looked at a the connection between strength training and bone density in 266 postmenopausal woman between 1995 and 2001. Results showed that weight bearing and resistance exercise, along with adequate calcium levels, improved bone mineral density. A 2012 study published in “Osteoporosis International” showed that regular strength training reduced bone loss in prematurely menopausal breast cancer survivors.
Exercises With Ankle Weights
Ankle weights increase resistance similar to dumbbells or weight machines. They come in different varieties including set weights or ones that adjust to different weight amounts. When placed on your ankle, they provide resistance for traditional leg exercises such as leg extensions, leg lifts, hamstring curls and calf raises. In addition, when placed on the ankles, they provide resistance for the upper body when used performing traditional pull-ups.
Before beginning an exercise program with ankle weights, consult a physician. Begin with a short warm up, such as walking. If you are new to ankle weights, begin with the lowest weight and gradually increase as the exercises become easier. If you experience pain, stop the exercise. Perform each exercise five to 10 times for each set. Begin slowly and gradually increase to multiple sets. Do not wear ankle weights when walking or running. Ankle weights during these activities disrupt the normal body mechanics and can lead to injuries.
- Mayo Clinic: Bone Density Test
- University of Arizona College of Public Health: The Bone Estrogen Strength Training Study
- Osteoporosis International: Impact + Resistance Training Improves Bone Health and Body Composition in Prematurely Menopausal Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Save Our Bones: Osteoporosis Exercises: Build Your Bones While You Sit
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images