Some people use ankle or wrist weights to increase the intensity of their walking or jogging, but these types of equipment make it hard for you to exercise with proper form. Weighted vests, on the other hand, allow you to distribute the weight centrally and more widely, so they don't affect your form. For best results, choose a weighted vest equal to 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Running is an effective form of cardiovascular exercise, but you may want to increase the intensity to reap greater fitness benefits. Weighted vests make the exercise more strenuous for your body, which challenges your muscles in ways that typical running doesn't. This leads to enhanced muscle growth, fitness and endurance.
Weighted vests come in various sizes and weights. Most have removable weights, allowing you to customize the vest for your workouts. Whatever type of weighted vest you choose, make sure it isn't constricting while you wear it. The fit should be comfortable and allow you full range of motion. Test different models to determine which provides adequate weight without being too bulky. Be sure the vest fits comfortably yet snugly against your body to avoid chafing, and to ensure the weights aren't flopping against you repeatedly while you run. If quick changes are important for your workout routine, choose a model that allows you to add or remove weight quickly.
If you find it difficult to maintain your balance while wearing a weighted vest, or if your joints begin to hurt, stop using the vest or lighten it so it doesn't cause these problems. Proper balance is essential while running, so don't risk injuring yourself.
You can use a weighted vest during exercises other than running. For example, sprinting while wearing a weighted vest promotes greater fitness, as it does when you perform lunges, pushups, squats, pullups and other typical exercises, the American Council on Exercise notes. Stop using the vest if you can't complete the exercises with correct form. If you prefer low-intensity exercise, wearing a vest that is about 10 percent of your body weight while walking increases the number of calories you burn by 8 percent, CNN reports.