Strapping on a pair of wrist weights before you take a brisk walk around the park might not improve your look, but these simple accessories can instantly increase the challenge of your workout. Wrist weights aren't conducive to every form of exercise, but when you wear them during light cardio, you'll gain increased fitness benefits without lengthening the workout's duration.
Boost the Benefits
The chief purpose of wrist weights is to increase the resistance -- and thus, the challenge and benefits -- of certain types of aerobic exercises. The wrist weights you wear shouldn't be heavy -- even wearing weights ranging from 1 to 3 pounds on each wrist can effectively boost the intensity of the workout. The American Council on Exercise suggests that an individual who uses this amount of weight can increase her heart rate by at least five to 10 beats per minute and elevate her oxygen consumption by at least five to 15 percent. Calorie consumption is also increased by five to 15 percent.
Wrist weights are ideal to wear if you want a little more out of your regular workout, but don't want to change it up much. If you're comfortable walking at 3 mph, for example, and don't want to increase your pace, wearing wrist weights provides the fitness benefits of a more strenuous walk. The added benefits you gain are the result of having to work harder because of the extra weight you are carrying. Unlike small dumbbells, which can lead to a spike in your blood pressure, wrist weights are ideal, because they keep your hands free.
Despite their benefits, wrist weights aren't suitable for every form of exercise. The ACE notes they're effective for such exercises as walking, aerobics and step aerobics. However, they're not ideal during more vigorous exercises, such as running. Using wrist weights can dramatically cause you to change your rhythm. You may, for example, pump your arms more vigorously, which could eventually lead to injuries because of added strain to your muscles, ligaments and joints of your wrists, arms and shoulders.
Use Them With Caution
Even if you use light wrist weights, it won't take you long to notice the increased workout for your arms and shoulders. Gradually incorporate them into appropriate workouts; try them for a short walk first and see how you feel the next day before attempting to use them again. Don't use them if they make you dramatically change your body's rhythm or they cause pain or discomfort. Don't fret if you find wrist weights impractical for use. If you want to boost the challenge of your walk or aerobics workout without them, try moving at a faster tempo or swinging your arms more vigorously to increase the benefits without risking the health of your upper body.
- American Council on Exercise: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks if Individuals Hold Dumbbells in Their Hands While Doing Step Aerobics or Other Cardio Activities?
- ABC News: Ankle, Wrist Weights May Pump Up the Pain
- Diet and Fitness Resources: Ankle/Wrist Weight Exercise Review
- Los Angeles Times: Ankle Weights: Pros and Cons