There are some compelling benefits to wearing ankle weights while walking. Wearing extra weight during exercise adds load and resistance, which increases the strenuousness of an activity like walking. Ankle weights provide certain benefits and engage the muscles and ligaments in the ankle. But wearing clothing where the weights are strategically located throughout the body is an even better solution for loading the body during exercise.
We’ve put together a list of 8 benefits of wearing ankle weights while walking specifically - just to show that whether you’re on a treadmill or walking the dog, there are ways you can add weight and reap its many benefits. And if you’re ready to take these benefits and multiply them further, then wearing weighted clothing, which is even more versatile, breathable, and dynamic, is the way to go!
8 Benefits of Wearing Ankle Weights While Walking (& Why Weighted Clothing is Even Better!)
Wearing weight during your fitness routine or everyday activities has many proven benefits. Ankle weights on their own have drawbacks when it comes to wearability - they’re often unstylish, not breathable, and static. But with weighted clothing, all of these benefits apply even more without any of the drawbacks.
Wearing weighted clothing better support the biomechanics behind a sport-specific movement like a tennis serve.
1 - Targets certain muscle groups
Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that only uses an individual’s body weight. Walking mechanics naturally target the quadriceps and hamstrings, the calf muscles, and the hip adductors. Adding ankle weights while walking adds extra resistance to further engage and target gluteus medius muscles, abdominal muscles, and other specific muscle groups. Ankle muscle activity can help reduce muscular imbalances by strengthening the ankle joint to support the way we carry weight through the body.
2 - Helps prevent bone loss
Preventing bone loss is another wonderful benefit of using ankle weights while walking. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise is a proven way to reduce the rate of progressive bone loss. Whether or not you have low bone density or have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, bone health should be on everyone’s radar. Similar to muscles, adding resistance to your walks with weighted clothing (like our weighted leggings) can strengthen or enhance your bones. Stronger bones mean a stronger body.
But when it comes to ankle weights, you’re limited with when and where you can wear them. If you’re actively trying to work on strengthening bones and muscles, then maximizing the frequency and setting in which you’re weight loading is key. The beauty of a product like KILOGEAR is that it’s stylish wearable weighted clothing. Instead of selectively wearing ankle weights, you can wear our leggings all day long to work, the grocery store, or around the house.
3 - Boosts your metabolism
There is a lot of information out there about metabolism. For many of us, we think of burning calories when we think of our metabolism. But it all returns to an understanding of body composition and how our cardiovascular health effectively burns fat. When we increase our daily exertion, our heart or cardiovascular health improves. Which in turn, boosts our metabolism.
A study following over 80 participants found that ankle-wrist weight training produced significant improvements in certain components of body composition and anthropometric (body proportion) parameters. The result was a reduction in body fat percentage and body mass index. Both of these measures are great support for why wearing weights throughout your day is only going to compound the effort you’re putting into exercising or being more active.
4 - Increases strength and muscle mass
One of the most tell-tale signs of aging is what health professionals and scientists call “sarcopenia”. This means an involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function. Muscle mass decreases approximately 3 to 8% per decade after the age of 30 (MayoClinic). Weight loading on the body, which you can more easily do through weighted clothing which can be worn throughout your day, specifically works to increase your muscle percentage.
So why is more muscle strength important? With more muscle strength, your joints and bones are better supported. Plus, more muscle mass means less body fat. A healthier, stronger body means a stronger immune system, improved energy levels, and reduced stress.
Loading the body appropriately with weights that target certain muscle groups can really help your balance and core strength.
5 - Improves balance and stability
In a study that measured weight loading and its effect on walking ability, ankle weights were used to help participants regain strength. The results showed that weight loading that corresponds to 1% of body weight improves walking ability. The variables used to measure walking ability directly relate to those required for good balance and stability.
Physical therapists have used body loading with weights for balance rehabilitation and balance training for years. So, the research showing that non-injured people can also see benefits from this type of resistance training is significant. This is why leveraging a new way of weight-wearing like KILOGEAR’s is a win-win.
6 - Targets certain muscle groups
Walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that only uses an individual’s body weight. Walking mechanics naturally target the quadriceps and hamstrings, the calf muscles, and the hip adductors. Adding weight to the body while walking adds extra resistance to further engage and target gluteus medius muscles, abdominal muscles, and other specific muscle groups.
Individual muscles work together to support the whole body. By wearing weighted clothing which places weight on the muscle instead of the joints, you can know for sure that you’re supporting the muscle you want to target.
7 - Provides versatility to workouts
Another benefit of ankle weights is the way they provide versatility to whatever exercise you’re already doing. Especially if you don’t have a strength training routine, but want to try new fitness equipment that can help you achieve a great workout, ankle weights might be for you. Try adding an extra one-pound ankle weight to step aerobics, bodyweight exercises like side-lying leg lifts, your daily walk on the treadmill, or other cardio activities. Ankle weights can be a handy fitness tool.
Taking it to the next level, try weighted calf bands that securely hold weight on your muscles and away from your joints. They also more evenly distribute the weight over the lower leg for better performance. They add slight extra resistance to controlled movements that increase the intensity of whatever you’re doing.
8 - Helps rehabilitate weak areas
If you’ve played sports or have an active lifestyle, chances are you’ve experienced an injury at some point. Ligament injuries, overuse injuries, and joint pain can flare up when we least expect it. This is why adding an increased load during exercises like walking lunges, leg lifts, scissor kicks, and other specific movements can help to rehabilitate and strengthen weak areas while reducing injury risk. Weighted clothes works with the body’s natural movement. This means by just wearing it as you go through your day, you’re getting an extra workout and building strength.
Training with weight placed on the muscles is a much better solution than static ankle weights, wrist weights, or weighted vests.
9 - Improves endurance of muscles
Wherever you are in your fitness journey, adding extra weight to your controlled movements can help improve overall stamina and muscle endurance. With stronger muscles, your injury risk goes down. When we think of the word endurance, we think of endurance events and athletes. But the truth is that endurance simply means our muscles’ ability to do more repetitions of a specific exercise. Muscle endurance affords our bodies more fitness potential.
Tips for Using Wearable Weights like Ankle Weights While Walking
If weighted clothing or using isolated weights like ankle weights are a new fitness tool for you, we’ve got some tips for getting started. You can add them to your walking or workout routine and wear them throughout your entire day.
Tip #1 - Start with the lowest weight
Ankle weights usually come in 1 to 5-pound ranges. We recommend starting with the lowest weight and incrementally increasing over a 2-4 week period of your usual walking routine. Jumping straight to the highest weight puts even overall healthy adults at risk for injury and joint pain.
Tip #2 - Opt for weighted clothing instead of individual weights
Weighted clothing is a better option for more evenly distributing weight throughout the body. Instead of ankle weights that are isolated around the ankles, try something like these weighted compression tights that have a dual pocket system for adding weights above and below the knee.
Tip #3 - Use proper placement and form
Most ankle weights use a velcro strap to attach to your ankle. It’s important to follow the manufacturer's guidelines, securing them where they are designed to be worn. When worn improperly, ankle weights can change the way you walk, leading to an altered gait.
This unnatural movement can put undue strain on your ankles, knees, and hips, potentially leading to joint pain or injury. An even better option is to wear weighted clothing with integrated weights placed on muscles instead of joins. This takes the guesswork out of form and placement altogether. It’s designed and built into the clothing.
Tip #3 - Talk to a certified personal trainer or physical therapist
It’s always a good idea to ask a professional when you’re trying something new. Using ankle weights while walking is still considered low-impact exercise, but it’s important to consider your overall health and body’s ability to do specific movements without risking injury.
Tip #4 - Avoid overusing them
Overusing ankle weights is the same as overusing any weights like traditional dumbbells. If they are too heavy or used too long or too often, they can lead to overuse injuries, strains, or joint issues. Proper recovery and rest days are key.
Tip #5 - Never run in ankle weights.
Because ankle weights tend to rest on the joints, it’s recommended to not run in them. The force exerted on your joints with each step can lead to joint wear and tear, especially in the knees and hips. The benefit of weighted clothing is that weight is placed on the muscles instead of the joints. You can run knowing you’re adding resistance to your steps without risking injury.
Wearing ankle weights while walking is just one part of a complete fitness solution or routine. For healthy individuals looking to add a greater load to their daily walks or treadmill time, there are numerous benefits to wearing ankle weights.
For more information on weighted clothing, check out KILOGEAR.