While walking, I like to use hand weights. The brochure, Let’s Get Walking, says using hand weights while walking may increase blood pressure and cause joint pain, but my blood pressure is lower, my joints feel better and I feel great. Is this contraindicated?
The use of hand weights while walking has been suggested to help increase caloric expenditure (burn more calories) while walking and to tone arms at the same time. There is the possibility that if not used properly, hand weights can increase the risk of injury, especially to joints and muscles.
In actuality, hand weights do not greatly increase the amount of calories burned. In fact, you can increase the amount of calories you burn by walking faster, by walking up hillier terrain, or by pumping your arms more while walking. Also, you can add a few more minutes or steps to your workout to reach your fitness goals.
Although there are recommended ways to properly use
hand weights, there is still an increased risk of
Additionally, using hand weights while walking has been shown to slightly increase blood pressure by 4 mm Hg. For most people this is not a significant increase but is still a concern to be addressed.
Therefore, the benefits of using hand weights while walking do not outweigh the risks. It’s best to leave the hand weights behind when you go for a walk. Instead, find steeper hills and spend more time walking. You can use the weights when you’re not walking to help tone your upper body.
The use of ankle weights while walking is not recommended either due to increased risk of injury to joints.
Dos and Don’ts. Health Hints: Texas Cancer
Council. Retrieved April 29, 2008 from
Is it better to walk with hand weights?
Retrieved April 29, 2008 from
Using Hand Weights While Walking. Retrieved
April 29, 2008 from
Walking for Fitness. Retrieved April 29, 2008 from http://www.rei.com/product/714872
Stephen D. Ball, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension and Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Thursday, December 04, 2008