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TOPIC: Walking / jogging with hand weights ...

 
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August 6, 2010 2:13 PM
Does anybody else do this?

I use hand weights all the time, on the road, on the treadmill, on the elliptical even.

But today, I read that this is not recommended. In fact it's pretty much universally discouraged. Apparently, there is a risk of injury, and a potential risk of dangerously high blood pressure if you are gripping too tightly.

But now, I'm so used to them that I can't imagine not having them. I appreciate the extra bump to the heart rate from having them, and I attribute the toning I'm seeing in my shoulders and upper arms to the fact that I'm always slinging these 5lb weights around. When I'm not using them, it almost feels like I'm cheating.

I'm about to go on my 30 minute lunchtime power walk, weights and all. I guess I'll just have to be cautious.
  413220
August 6, 2010 2:20 PM
If you've lost 115 pounds using the weights, among other things I'm sure, I say keep on keepin on....EXCELLENT work! I've never heard anything bad about it....as long as they don't make you fall over a lot, which it doesn't seem like it does. With anything that has to do with weight loss or fitness, someone will usually write something negative while another hails it as a positive. Just take it with a grain of salt and do what works for you!!
  72037
August 6, 2010 2:31 PM
I've heard that you shouldn't use weights either, but I really don't see why not! I have 2 pound weights that are specifically labeled as "walking weights" because they're soft (and squishy :P haha). Walking with them always gets my heart rate up better than without.
Edited by funkyspunky871 On August 6, 2010 2:33 PM
August 6, 2010 2:36 PM
The instructors at all of the gyms I have been to have said that walking (or stepping) with weights is ok but you shouldn't run... not sure how much you can necessarily trust them (although they do need to be qualified in Australia, not sure about the US) but I believe them.
August 6, 2010 2:41 PM
I've never heard of any problems from hand weights, but a friend of mine had hip problems from running with them on his ankles.
August 6, 2010 3:02 PM
I use the 3 pound wrist weights all the time. I stated on them when I bought them not to use them when walking. I do, and haven't seen a problem with it, and you know, I have the hernia and it still don't bother me. You have done such an amazing job here, "my dear first friend here"! I'd say you'd know if it's bothering you.
  801287
August 6, 2010 3:39 PM
Walking w/hand weights can provide some benefit, depending on your form. The swinging arms can increase the intensity (and thus the caloric expenditure) of the activity, provided it is done properly. Just holding the weights provides little or no benefit. It's the amplitude of the arm swing (i.e. raising your thumb on the "upswing" to the level of your shoulder) that provides much/most of the benefit. You can increase the intensity of the workout by just increasing your arm swing to the level described, even with no weights at all. Adding weights increases the intensity by a little bit more. It is not recommended that anyone try this with weights greater than 5 lbs.

The amount of "toning" that one can achieve from this will vary widely. Essentially, the body is adapting to the physical requirements of swinging the weight. It will do that and no more. Whether or not that modest adaptation meets your goals will depend obviously on the individual. It won't substitute for strength training.

For exercises that do not involve swinging the arms, holding weights is of little value. If you really wanted to add extra weight for running, a weight vest is preferable to hand weights. Why someone would want to do this and risk orthopedic injury rather than just running faster is beyond me, but I know people do it.

In many/most cases using small handweights (e.g. 3 lb) during other exercise activities, like aerobic classes--will result in little or no benefit. It's just not enough resistance. Again, there will be some initial adaptation, but the progress will plateau almost immediately.

The blood pressure risk will depend somewhat on your individual makeup. Isometric hand gripping and excessive upper-body work can provoke a hypertensive response, but that is more significant for someone who already has hypertension, and that applies to a number of different exercise movements, not just using hand weights.
Edited by Azdak On August 6, 2010 3:42 PM
August 6, 2010 3:53 PM
I have heard that the wrist/ankle weights (that you strap on) are bad for your wrist and ankles...but carrying weights is ok.
  1411187
August 6, 2010 3:55 PM
My initial response when I read this was that adding 10 pounds to your walk isn't going to make a significant difference when it comes to calorie burn...and that's probably true actually....but hey, you've lost 115 pounds since January so I'm certainly not going to attempt to tell you what works and what doesn't work. Keep on keepin' on, my friend!
August 13, 2011 12:01 PM
I'm in my sixties and have been walking with weights for over 25 years, over varied terrain including hills, based on the "Heavyhands" system pioneered by Dr Leonard Schwartz (who used the system himself for more than 35 years). I regularly use weights in the 3-10 pound range, for durations of an hour or longer (sometimes much longer). The system makes use of a wide (indeed open-ended) variety of simultaneous arm and leg movements and tempos, some of them involving raising the weights vigorously to well above shoulder height.

Far from merely "interfering" with walking rhythm, the system is a challenge to explore a much larger universe of balance, rhythm, tempos, and range of movement and is a whole learning experience in itself. The idea is to develop the ability over time to be able to balance total work-load between upper and lower body, and hence achieve a greater total training effort with less strain to any specific body-part (as might happen, for example, with constant running over the same period) and less subjective sense of effort. The calorie-burn can be VERY much higher than "unencumbered" walking. For example, my heart rate at a given walking speed - say, 90-100 without weights - can rise to 160 over extended periods with the addition of vigorous arm movements using 5-7 pound weights. Dr Schwartz and his associates did considerable research at Pittsburgh University which showed that such sustained work-loads correlate reliably with calorie burns up to 15 per minute and beyond.

Naturally, it would be foolish to attempt this sort of thing without adequate preparation, but working up to it steadily proves the effects on both cardiovascular fitness and overall muscular strength-endurance to be pretty impressive. For example, my own resting heart-rate is 42, and my maximum is still over 180 in my seventh decade. My joint and tendon strength, health and mobility are excellent after all these years, and I find this sort of training first-rate as a preparation for hill-walking, running, skiing and other general fitness activities. By the way, there's an experienced community of "Heavyhanders" out there, and many report similar stories to mine over many decades. I guess they are equally puzzled by assertively negative statements of the "dangers" of walking with weights by those who seemingly lack no credentials except the critically relevant knowledge and experience. Here's a link to a Yahoo group devoted to the topic:

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/heavyhands/

Those familiar with Clarence Bass's website will also find supportive and informative discussions of Heavyhands there.

David Nyman

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