Sometimes being weighed down can be a good thing! Walking for exercise to focus and destress can help take the heavy weight of stress off of your shoulders and mind, but let’s try putting a couple of pounds in your hands instead.
Carrying one to five pound weights while you walk actively engages in the muscles in your upper body, and has similar effects to lifting weights, all while avoiding the sometimes-intimidating free weights section of the gym. Walking with weights can increase your heart rate five to ten beats a minute, increase respiratory function, and burn 5-15% more calories per walk.
The two most common options are either holding dumbbells in your hands, or strapping on wrist weights. With either of these methods, you should keep on elbows bent, arms close to your sides, and swing them in a natural range of motion. Avoid swinging your arms wildly back and forth, as that may cause back or muscle strain.
Walking with Dumbbells:
These are great for someone who wants to strengthen up not just the upper body, but also the hand and wrist muscles. Before rushing out to buy dumbbells for your walk, first go try it out at a gym or sports store to make sure you are buying the right weight for your fitness level. If you are still unsure, three pound dumbbells are the most recommended weight by health experts, as there is no risk of straining your wrist or elbow joints at this level.
Walking with Wrist Weights:
The main difference between dumbbells and wrist weights is that you are no longer responsible for gripping the weights in your hands. This greatly reduces the stress on your fingers if you are prone to arthritis or pain in your knuckles. You can easily find a variety of wrist weights starting around a very affordable $10.