Several people have asked me whether they should wear ankle weights when walking, in part to gain some extra calorie burn and/or to boost the workout aspect.
The short answer is no — you should not wear ankle weights while walking.
Here is the long answer:
- Strapping weights around your ankles tightly enough so they don’t jostle while you move causes compression, which could compromise blood flow to your feet — not advisable.
- Ankle weights are an unnatural distribution of extra weight. To concentrate added weight in one spot, particularly around a joint, can cause undue exertion and injury.
- Wearing ankle weights can throw off your gait. That can tax your joints — not only your ankles but also your knees and your hips, causing strain and injury.
- Having something strapped around your ankles may pose a tripping hazard. As you walk, you might get tangled up in the extra bulk. Or you might subconsciously widen your legs to keep the weights from bumping or rubbing together, which brings us back to the previous bullet point.
- Concentrating weight at your ankles — even if only a few pounds — creates a muscle imbalance. Your quadriceps (or the muscles on the front of your thighs) suddenly have more work to do, because that is the muscle that lifts your leg to bend your knee. But your hamstrings (the muscles on the back of your thighs) don’t have an equal extra job.
If you want to boost the effects of your walk by wearing ankle weights, I’d suggest you reconsider. Keep weight training to just that — a weight training session. And keep your cardio efforts to an aerobic exercise session. You’ll get better results in both situations. (However, something like a circuit class, in which you alternate cardio bouts with strength training moves, is designed to be safely effective.)
All that said, if you are looking to turn your walk into a more serious, results-bearing workout, let’s talk. I can help you do so, without extra equipment and with lower chances of injury.