Some people become so desperate to lose weight and so frustrated with the slow progress of healthy weight loss, they become willing to try anything -- like wearing ankle and wrist weights all day. It makes sense -- forcing your body to lug around extra weight should result in more calories burned. Not necessarily. In fact, wearing weights all day can cause more harm than good.
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If you spend all day sitting at a desk, wearing weights will not make you burn more calories, no matter how heavy they are. If you are pretty active during the day, wearing weights may boost your calorie burn a little bit, but don't expect miracles. For instance, if you wear ankle and wrist weights while cleaning the house, you may burn a few more calories but you won't develop strength gains. Wrist and ankle weights simply are not heavy enough to stimulate muscle growth, but they are heavy enough to tire you out sooner.
Not During Workout
Wearing ankle weights during your cardio workout dramatically increases your risk of joint injury because it alters your gait and throws your body out of alignment. Using wrist and ankle weights during a strength training routine won't help you either. For resistance training to be effective, you must lift weights heavy enough that you cannot do more than 12 to 15 reps. Unless you are recovering from a severe illness or injury, wrist and ankle weights will not provide the necessary muscle stress.
Of course, wrist and ankle weights do have their place. If you are stuck at a desk all day, strapping on a pair of ankle weights and doing mini leg raises as you work will burn more calories than just sitting there. You can wear them to walk the dog, run errands or any activity that allows you to walk slow enough that you can pay attention to your gait. Keeping them next to the couch so you can do a few mild calisthenics while you watch television can help you fit more activity into your day -- just don't count these activities toward the day's workout.
There are much more effective ways to boost your calorie burn. Add interval training to your cardio routine, and pick up the pace in general. Do longer, more intense weight session for every major muscle group, twice per week. Be more active all around -- park far away, take the stairs and walk fast wherever you go. Don't drive when you can bike, don't bike when you can walk and don't walk when you can run.