Ankle weights might not add a spring to your step, but the extra load when you walk intensifies your workout, helps you burn calories and provides your lower-body muscles the resistance that strengthens them. Ranging from three to 20 pounds, the weighed bands are affordable and easy to wear. But despite the benefits, they might not be right for you. Check with your doctor before incorporating ankle weights into your workout.
The weight around your ankles creates resistance, which your muscles have to work through when moving your body. When you walk, flexing your calves and engaging your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, the added load intensifies the demand on those muscles. The additional effort they make helps to tone them.
Increased Caloric Burn
Walks through the same circuit at a similar pace use more calories when you take them while wearing ankle weights. Therefore, the accessories offer potential as a weight-loss aid. However, Edward R. Laskowski, a medical doctor writing on MayoClinic.com, warns that the strenuous effort you make to move while wearing the weights can cause injuries. If you use them, stay aware of pain and bruising. If these signs -- or any other discomfort -- occur, stop wearing the ankle weights and consult a doctor to prevent lasting physical problems.
Cardiovascular exercise optimizes oxygen absorption and blood circulation as your heart pumps faster. In an online interview with the “Los Angeles Times” in 2007, UC San Francisco orthopedics assistant professor Anthony Luke said the intensified effort you make when you move with ankle weights increases cardiovascular activity. But he also points out that the impact on the joints is greater, and may prove harmful.
Since ankle weights provide a more intense workout, you reach your target for caloric burn, cardiovascular activity and strength training faster than you do without the devices. But the shortcut might come at a price: Injuries resulting from using the accessories are not uncommon. Discuss with your doctor how the added load during exercise is likely to affect your body.
- ABC News: Ankle, Wrist Weights May Pump Up the Pain
- Los Angeles Times: Ankle Weights: Pros and Cons
- Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine: Gastrocnemius vs. Soleus Strain: How to Differentiate and Deal with Calf Muscle Injuries
- World of Diets: Walking with Ankle Weights: Risks and Benefits
- MayoClinic.com: Ankle Weights for Fitness Walkers: Good Idea?
- ACE: Fit Facts: Cardiovascular Exercise
Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.