Should I carry hand weights when I walk?

Should I carry hand weights when I walk?

No. Here are 4 reasons to walk without weights.

The main reasons people give me for walking with hand weights is to burn more calories and tone their arms. Neither of these will necessarily happen.

 1.  You will burn the same number of calories

You will burn roughly the same number of calories whether you walk with or without weights:

  • Somebody who weighs 200 lbs will burn 120 calories walking a 30-minute mile.
  • The same person will burn 123 calories walking a 30-minute mile with a pair of 3-lb hand weights.
To burn more calories walking:
  • increase your pace.
  • walk for a longer period of time.
  • walk on an incline (treadmill) or up a hill.
  • perform walking intervals.

2.  Small weights will not tone your arms.

Small weights will not provide enough resistance to tone your arms.

How to tone your arms:

‘Toning’ involves a combination of building muscle and losing body fat (so you can see the muscle).

  • Perform upper body strength training exercises that feel challenging.
  •  Perform enough aerobic exercise to lose weight.

3.  More weight adds more stress to your joints.

The extra body weight you are already carrying around (and trying to lose) adds stress to your joints which can cause pain or injury. It doesn’t make sense to add more weight to add more stress to your body and joints.

4. Hand weights can interfere with your form.

Carrying hand weights can interfere with the natural movement of your body as you walk. You might walk differently or swing your arms differently when carrying weights.

Any small change to the way your body naturally moves can lead to injury, muscle problems, or pain down the road.

Calorie calculations from equation: (METs x 3.5 x body weight in kg)/200 = calories/minute

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Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...