Walking is an easy and cheap way to exercise, and you can do it anywhere. It's also safe and doesn't put much impact on your joints. Whether you like to walk casually or power walk for a good workout, you can benefit from using hand weights, or dumbbells, to firm up your body during your walk. Make sure the dumbbells have less weight than what you would lift during strength training. Walking with weights will not only firm up your muscles, but also improve your walking endurance.
Walking with Hand Weights
Walk holding your dumbbells with your arms out to your sides lifted to shoulder level. Bend your elbows and curl your hands to your shoulders to do bicep curls. Repeat. Next, raise the arm opposite of the foot stepping in front. Reach it out in front of you at shoulder's level, then switch arms as your other leg steps in front. Repeat, then do the same exercise while reaching your arms overhead instead of in front of you.
Walking with Poles
You could also walk with poles instead of dumbbells to firm up your arms and body. Poles are an especially good choice if you could use some help with balance. Use trekking poles to work out your arms and chest while alleviating pressure on your knees.
Another way to walk with weights and firm up your muscles is to do walking lunges with dumbbells. You'll need at least 20 feet of space. Hold dumbbells in either hand and keep your arms by your sides. Stand tall with your feet together, and take a big step directly forward with one foot. Lower your hips and bend your knees to land in a lunge; your front leg should be at a 90-degree angle and your front knee shouldn't surpass your toes. Repeat with the other leg, and continue walking for 20 repetitions.
Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen, including walking with weights. Using dumbbells in general is discouraged for people with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. If you're new to free weights, begin by lifting one-pound weights and increase the weight you lift pound by pound. Do not lift free weights that weigh more than 10 percent of your body weight. Use of ankle weights is controversial; some experts consider them an injury risk.
Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.