If you see someone walking quickly and pumping her arms dramatically, she's not necessarily stomping away from an argument. She might be wearing wrist weights, which are common for people to use in activities such as walking for burning fat and building muscle. Wrist weights offer benefits to your overall fitness, but it's important to keep their weight reasonable.
Wrist weights usually weigh between 1 and 3 pounds and are easy to attach to your wrist with straps that keep them snug while you move. Wearing this type of weight is ideal for aerobic activities, such as walking, running and even step or traditional aerobic classes. Some people even use them for swimming, and many people also use ankle weights to build muscle during these types of activities.
People walk and jog with wrist weights because of the fitness benefits they receive. In simplest terms, your hand and wrist area weighs more, which means that as you swing it while moving, you're working your muscles harder than usual. Wearing wrist weights while taking part in an aerobic exercise burns more calories and can elevate your heart rate up to 10 extra beats per minute, which helps pump more oxygen-rich blood throughout your body, according to the American Council on Exercise.
While it's true that you can carry small dumbbells on your walk or jog to get the same benefits that wrist weights provide, wrist weights are more beneficial for a couple reasons. The ACE reports that some people can increase their blood pressure significantly through use of dumbbells because of the tight grip needed to hold them. Additionally, carrying dumbbells is awkward because your hands are occupied, which means you'd have to set them down to grab a sip of water or change the song on your iPod.
Although it's true that the more weight you add to your wrists, the more you'll work your muscles, it's important not to go overboard. The ACE warns to not use wrist weights over 3 pounds, as this weight can stain the muscles in your arms and even your elbow and shoulder joints. If you feel a lower weight isn't giving you enough of a workout, try pumping your arms more vigorously.
- American Council on Exercise: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks if Individuals Hold dumbbells in their hands While Doing Step Aerobics or Other Cardio Activities?
- Diet and Fitness Resources: Ankle/Wrist Weight Exercise Review
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook: Benefits of Exercise
- FitDay: What are the Benefits of Working Out with Ankle Weights?
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.