Ankle weights are a popular method to amp up resistance for a walk, but ankle weights come with a number of drawbacks. They aren’t suited to all walkers. So how else can walkers get more out of their daily routine? You might be surprised to learn hand weights are a great alternative to ankle weights. While they do not work the lower body like ankle weights, they can turn your walk into a full-body exercise.
Advantages of Hand Weights
Walking already works your lower body, so rather than adding to the strain on your legs and hips, hand weights give your arms and shoulders something to resist. Since most walkers swing their arms as they walk, they can take advantage of hand weights to create a natural exercising motion with variable levels of difficulty. Those who want to challenge themselves can swing their arms in broader arcs, and those who are dealing with fatigue, or simply have smaller muscles, can minimize their arm motion. Even keeping arms bent at waist-level creates resistance that builds endurance. Hand weights provide a number of benefits to walking, including:
- Increased endurance
- Extra calories burned
- Upper-body strength
- Additional cardiovascular work
Risks of Hand Weights
Like any exercises, particularly those meant to add stress to cardiovascular activity, walking with hand weights has some risks. They are similar to the risks of walking with ankle weights, but hand weights have not been shown to significantly alter a walker’s gait, like ankle weights. There are other, equally important risks, though. Walking with weights that are too heavy for your current level of fitness can increase your chances of injuring yourself. Remember, you should always consult with your doctor before making sudden changes to your exercise regimen. Risks of walking with hand weights include:
- Joint damage in the shoulders, arms, and wrists
- Muscle strain in the arms and upper chest
- Increased blood pressure
Tone Fitness Walking Dumbbells with Handle Review
Available in three colors and three weights (ranging from one pound to three pounds), these dumbbells are designed specifically for those looking to add a mild challenge to their regular cardio. The dumbbells are made of cast iron and covered in neoprene for added grip. The adjustable, Velcro strap helps keep the dumbbells in your hands, and a limited manufacturer’s warranty helps keep your investment safe.
Former users praised these weights’ color, durability, and price. The fact that the Velcro strap is removable was highlighted by many users who enjoyed the weights’ ability to transform into regular dumbbells when required.
- Removable Velcro strap keeps weights in place while walking
- Variety of sizes/colors
- Neoprene for improved grip
- Weight correlates with color, which means men may find the product less desirable
SELF Soft Walking Hand Weights Review
These hand weights are available in two colors and weights (one pound and two pounds), but the primary color of both options is grey. Sold as a pair, these weights include a heavy core and a soft exterior for comfort and ease of grip while walking or jogging. A strap helps keep the weights secure while you exercise.
This pair of hand weights are very popular with former users who prefer to jog, power walk, or simply perform upper body exercise with a more comfortable weight. The only serious critiques concern the weights’ size, which exceeds expectations and can fit awkwardly in small palms. The strap is also too loose for small hands, but too tight for large hands.
- Soft grip
- Strap to secure weight
- Suitable for many exercises
- Strap does not fit all hands
- Weights may be too large for some users to easily hold
j/fit Neoprene Grip Weight Review
Available in a single color and five different weights, these hand weights feature an innovative design that is ideal for jogging, walking, or other aerobic activities. The shape is easy to hold, and the neoprene exterior enhances grip. These weights come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
- Neoprene for excellent grip
- Unique style and design
- Sold individually
- Product changes and future purchases may not match past or current purchases
If you are healthy enough to increase the difficulty of your regular walks, then hand weights are a good option. Those with existing joint, muscle, or blood pressure conditions should be especially careful, however. Most hand weights are available in multiple sizes, allowing for walkers to gradually increase the intensity of their workouts. This limits the chances of injury and allows healthy, natural progression.
Each of the products discussed above offers their own benefits, and there are walkers who will benefit from any of them. There are some distinct flaws, though, in several of the designs. The j/fit starts at a disadvantage because the weights are sold individually. The fact that consumers cannot know for sure if the next weight they order will match the first is another strike. The neoprene is an excellent design element, and many former users did compliment how soft the weights felt.
The SELF weights are based on an excellent concept, but the poorly fitted strap is a serious problem for walkers. Of the three options, the Tone weights appear to the best. They have the neoprene grip that the j/fit use and a strap like the SELF weights. Unlike the SELF weights, the strap is adjustable and removable, making the dumbbells superior to the SELF weights.
Regardless of which hand weights you choose, be sure to use caution and consult your doctor.