There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about walking with wrist weights, what benefits can you expect?
Wrist weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your wrists. They can be used in many exercises to add some extra resistance to your training.
Some people question how useful this equipment can be but wearing wrist weights while walking can offer you some benefits.
- Related: The 5 Best Wrist Weights For Walking
Should you walk with wrist weights?
Before going into the benefits you have to know that walking with wrist weights can also have a few downsides.
Walking is generally a low injury-risk exercise but for some people, even regular walking is too hard on body parts like knees, ankles, and back. If you are in a situation like that walking with wrist weights is likely not recommended.
Next, going straight from barely any arm exercise to walking many miles and kilometers with wrist weights can cause issues. Start light and with short durations and slowly build up from there as long as you can do so safely.
Lastly, walking with wrist weights can negatively influence your hand coordination to a small extent.
This will be a lot less than something like wearing wrist weights all day but it is something to keep in mind if you plan to do things like drive a car.
If you want to walk with external weights, walking with a weighted vest is generally better than walking with wrist weights. This can offer more of a challenge and add weight in a more “natural” way.
That being said, walking with wrist weights can still offer benefits when done right. Whether the upsides weigh up against the downsides for you depends on things like your preferences, strength, budget, etc.
For many people, wrist weights be a better choice than ankle weights due to the potential change in gait of this alternative.
7 pros of wearing wrist weights while walking
You definitely want to keep the potential downsides in mind but at the same time, wrist weights also offer benefits for workouts like walking and on their own as a workout tool. Discover some of the most important ones.
1. Can help you lose more weight
Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.
One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time with something like walking you use up more energy than usual.
A big factor in how many calories you burn during a workout is your weight. To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more weight you carry, the more energy you need to fuel movement.
Wearing wrist weights helps you burn a few extra calories by increasing how hard your body has to work per minute of walking. Let’s say you use wrist weights from of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) on each side.
A 155-pound (70 kg) person walking for 30 minutes at 3 mph (4.8 kmh) burns around 128 calories. Someone who weighs 159 pounds (72.1 kg) will burn around 131 calories in the same duration at the same speed.
With the swinging of your arms, wrist weights will likely have more of an effect than the same weight in extra body weight. Additionally, small improvements do add up.
At the same time, while this is a fun fact about walking, it also becomes clear that you should not expect any crazy before-after pictures from just adding some light weights to your walking routine.
Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.
2. You can’t drop them
Besides keeping your hands free to do things like drink water or hold your phone, strapping the weights to your wrists also offers the benefit of keeping the weights there while walking.
An alternative like a light dumbbell can be dropped more easily. This interrupts your walking session and can be somewhat annoying.
3. Engages your muscles more
Something important to note first is that to really grow and strengthen muscles you have to put them under enough pressure with the right resistance, repetitions, and sets.
If you can take more than 30 steps without your muscles fatiguing, walking with wrist weights will not take care of the muscle growth part of toning your arms.
At the same time, wearing wrist weights can help you engage certain muscles and improve endurance in them. Some of the muscles that will have to work harder include:
- Deltoids (main shoulder muscle)
- Biceps (front upper arm)
- Trapezius (upper shoulder)
- Scapular muscles (muscles around your shoulder blades)
- Core muscles
- Leg muscles
Of these, the upper body muscles will be challenged the most compared to their relative strengths.
Besides improving endurance, some of the results of engaging these muscles include keeping them flexible and slowing down the process of becoming worse.
If you are serious about building muscle you do generally want to choose weight lifting exercises over walking with wrist weights. There are plenty of wrist weight movements that can help.
4. Improves cardiovascular health somewhat
Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.
When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate. Doing this in safe amounts can strengthen the cardiovascular system.
Even if you don’t notice any increases in lung capacity, engaging your cardiovascular system can make it healthier or at least slow down the process of becoming worse.
While there are more effective ways to do this too, walking with wrist weights does make your heart beat slightly faster and thus helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system just a bit more (1)
Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements without wrist weights and build up from there.
5. Relatively budget-friendly
Another potential hurdle for many workouts is the budget required.
Some exercises require inexpensive equipment starting with a jumping rope to at-home workout machines of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Even the investment required for gym subscriptions adds up after a while.
Money put into improving your health is often a great investment but sometimes you can get the same effects with less.
Wrist weights are not the most effective fitness tool but their budget-friendly price makes up for this to some extent. People on a budget may appreciate this aspect.
6. Could improve bone density
Similar to many other areas of your body, putting your bones under safe amounts of extra pressure can help you strengthen them (7). This is helpful for avoiding things like broken bones.
Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, strengthening them right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.
Walking with wrist weights puts more pressure on your bones than walking without them. This in turn will benefit your bone density in the long term. One question is how much of a difference it makes.
One study compared walking with a weighted vest (up to 8% of the body weight of the participants) to walking without one 3 times a week for 12 weeks. They found improvements in bone health markers but these were not statistically significant (8).
Weighted vests are generally heavier so if they don’t do that much, walking with wrist weights likely won’t offer that many results either. However, based on first principles, wrist weights do help to a small extent.
That being said, if improving bone density is one of your main goals, there are more effective tools and workouts.
7. Makes your walking more time-efficient
Another benefit of wearing wrist weights while walking is that it can help you decrease the time it takes to do a good workout. Duration is not always necessary to have a good exercise session.
A more intense cardio workout can train your cardiovascular system in a shorter amount of time than one at a lower intensity. Wrist weights will again not make the biggest difference but they do help to some extent.
This can be useful if you have trouble finding enough time throughout your day to fit in some movement and want to get just a bit more out of the sessions you are able to do.
Wrist weights are no miracle tool but they do help to some extent with the pros above. Do keep the potential downsides, equipment alternatives, and workout alternatives in mind.
Additionally, if you do decide to start walking with wrist weights, start light and with short durations. If everything goes well you can slowly build up from there.
Many wrist weights allow you to change up the weight which allows you to increase the challenge over time if everything goes well.
If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that walking with wrist weights is not for you.
If you want to walk with weights, have the budget, and don’t find them too uncomfortable, weighted vests are often a better choice. These pressure your body in a more “natural” way and to a bigger extent.
Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor in a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently.
If you like walking with wrist weights, great. If not, regular walking or other workouts can also offer a lot of benefits.