If you're ready to take your training to the next level, adding a weighted vest to your gym gear might seem like a natural next step. But before you start shopping for the heavy-yet-stylish garment, make sure it's what you really want. Although weighted vests can definitely rev up your workout, they can also cause serious injury. If you do plan on using a vest, make sure you know how to use one properly to avoid any pitfalls.
What makes a weight vest so beneficial is the fact that it can add resistance to your workout without having to use hand-held weights. That means you can wear it while doing just about any activity to add a greater challenge and more resistance, whether it's going for a walk, playing a game of basketball or even training for a specific sport. The added resistance means your body is challenged more, reaping a higher degree of difficulty and better results if used in the right, safe way.
Unfortunately, weight vests aren't all good. In fact, using a vest improperly could be downright dangerous, putting you at risk for sports injuries. Because the added weight can throw off your balance, you could risk more falls. The added weight also means you'll need to adjust your intensity levels and put more pressure on your joints, which could result in strains, sprains and overuse injuries.
A study published in a 2000 issue of "The Journals of Gerontology, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences" found that when weighted vests were added to a regular workout routine that included jumping, the result was reduced bone loss in older, postmenopausal women. If you're at risk for osteoporosis, a doctor-supervised regimen using a weight vest could help, but talk with your doctor before you get started.
One of the drawbacks of a weight vest is that it could cause poor posture. If you choose a vest heavier than necessary, your back can stoop and strain under the added weight. Because posture and technique are paramount for safe exercise, hunching or straining could cause serious back, neck and shoulder injuries.
If you do decide to use a weight vest, make sure you do so safely to limit your risk of injury. Don't choose a vest that is too heavy; in fact, a vest that allows you to put in and take out weights is best, so you can adjust as you go. Your weight vest should never be heavier than is comfortable. You shouldn't have to strain your body in order to carry the vest, and you should always be able to retain a full range of motion. That way, you keep proper posture and limit strain and sprain injuries. If you're unsure of the weight amount or proper usage, talk to your doctor or trainer about safely adding a weight vest to your routine.
- FitDay: Is Using a Weight Vest to Lose Weight a Good Idea?
- Ask the Trainer: Are There Any Negative Effects of Jogging with a Weight Vest On?
- The Journals of Gerontology, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences; Long-term Exercise Using Weighted Vests Prevents Hip Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Women; C. M. Shaw, et al.; September 2000
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