Taking a walk around the neighborhood or even on your treadmill is a simple way to burn calories if you don't feel like going for a jog or working up a sweat doing something more vigorous. Walking might be just the right pace of workout for you, but if you want to bump up the intensity without breaking into a run, strapping weights to your body can help you feel the burn.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, and walking is a simple way to reach and exceed this target. If you walk for just 30 minutes daily, you'll easily eclipse the recommended 150 minutes. Although walking won't help you burn calories as quickly as aerobic activities such as running and swimming, it's an effective calorie burner. Someone who weighs 155 pounds and walks at just 3.5 mph for 30 minutes will burn 149 calories.
Walking on a regular basis might not be as glamorous as someone who swims laps at the community pool or practices martial arts, but it provides you with a long list of benefits. MayoClinic.com reports that walking helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves your mood through the release of endorphins, lowers your blood pressure, helps you keep physically fit and regulates your cholesterol levels.
Ankle and Wrist Weights
Some people strap weights to their ankles and wrists to increase the intensity of the workout, burn more calories and tone their muscles. Wrist and ankle weights are often made of such materials as canvas and contain weight packs. Adjustable wrist and ankle weights allow you to add or remove weights to make the exercise easier or more difficult. Although it's impossible to gauge how many extra calories you'll burn, given that you can pump your arms vigorously or just allow them to hang at your sides, the American Council on Exercise notes that when you wear wrist weights during aerobic exercise, you'll increase your heart rate by up to 10 beats per minute and your oxygen consumption by up to 15 percent.
It might seem logical to wear heavy wrist and ankle weights to dramatically increase the intensity of your walk, but the ACE suggests sticking with weights between 1 and 3 pounds. Heavier wrist weights can cause stress to your joints and muscles and heavier ankle weights can affect the way you walk, which can lead to injury. Some people use light dumbbells as an alternative to wrist weights, but the ACE warns that tightly gripping dumbbells during aerobic exercise can increase your blood pressure.
- 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?
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- MayoClinic.com: Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different 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.