Ankle weights help build muscle and increase calorie burn.
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Aerobic exercises such as walking and jogging are a key part of any workout regimen, but if you're looking for a way to boost the burn you feel during these exercises, strap on a pair of ankle weights before you pound the pavement. Ankle weights have a dual benefit during aerobic exercise, helping you build muscle faster and burn more calories. But they're not without their risks and aren't for everyone.
Wearing ankle weights while walking and running can increase the intensity of your workout, making your leg muscles work harder.
Consider the Benefits
Wearing ankle weights during such activities as walking and jogging leads to a number of benefits for your body. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), wearing ankle weights between 1 and 3 pounds can elevate your heart rate by up to five beats per minute and the rate at which you burn calories by up to 10 percent. In an article in the "Los Angeles Times," UC San Francisco's Dr. Anthony Luke notes ankle weights provide more of a workout for such muscles as your glutes, quads and hamstrings.
Choose Your Ankle Weights
If you're determined to sculpt chiseled calves and rock-hard quads, you're more likely to see results if you hit the gym for some lower-body strength-training exercises. But if you spend significant time each week walking and jogging, wearing ankle weights can help increase the strength of your lower body. Resist the temptation to wear the heaviest ankle weights you can find. The ACE warns against wearing weights heavier than 3 pounds.
Understand the Risks
Wearing ankle weights during aerobic exercise can be beneficial, but not everyone should attempt to build their body in this fashion. In the "Los Angeles Times" article, Luke notes that while ankle weights can be beneficial, they also put more pressure on your muscles and joints. The ACE warns that ankle weights can cause you to change the mechanics of your exercise, which can lead to injury. If you frequently experience lower-body pain during exercise, consult your doctor before using ankle weights.
Try Other Options
Ankle weights aren't the only way to increase the resistance of such exercises as walking and jogging. Other options to consider include using wrist weights and even a weighted vest. Wrist weights increase your heart rate and calorie burn more than ankle weights and can help build your upper-body muscles. Weighted vests are also beneficial, but the ACE notes this form of resistance is best during vertical exercises. Although some people substitute small dumbbells for wrist weights, the ACE warns doing so can cause an unhealthy rise in your blood pressure.