What are the benefits of ankle weights?

benefits of ankle weightsMost people hate being out of shape. And most people are looking for easy ways to do little things to get themselves into shape.

According to Harvard Health Publications, extra fat can contribute to as many as 50 different diseases. While some people may brush this information aside, many more are already embracing different approaches to help them become fitter and healthier. One of those approaches involves using ankle weights in your workouts, or just your day to day life.

Now, it’s easy to see that ankle weights can help tone your legs, but the real question is, what can they do for your overall health and your body mass index? And how can you use ankle weights to help add variety to workouts?

In a study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, participants were asked to run on a treadmill while wearing ankle weights. It was discovered that these participants enjoyed greater cardiovascular fitness and weight loss benefits than a control group who did not wear ankle weights. Researchers theorized that the weights help to increase energy expenditure and training intensity during the run.

If you want to give them a try, the good news is that ankle weights are inexpensive and available in different weights and different sizes. It’s nowhere near as committal or costly as purchasing a whole rowing machine, for instance.

But lets break it right down and get into all the benefits of ankle weights.

Ankle weights can help shape your legs

A lot of people use leg raises to increase range of motion and flexibility, but this may not be enough. You need to add extra resistance for optimal toning. This does not mean you have to lift heavy weights or bulk up, though; utilizing ankle weights in your exercises is perfectly adequate. The advantage, says the New York Times, is that ankle weights help to fatigue the muscles, which helps in toning and shaping the legs.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, most people go for high repetitions in their workouts while neglecting weights altogether. Using repetition can help you burn calories, but if you want your muscles to grow stronger – which will help boost your metabolism – you might need to add weights to your workouts.

Ankle weights can help increase your endurance

When you use additional weight, you will have to exert more force than usual, leading to an improvement in your overall endurance level. If you use ankle weights consistently, you will notice an increase in stamina that lets you have longer, more productive workouts. Aside from improving your endurance, using ankle weights can also provide a number of cardiovascular and pulmonary health benefits.

You can expand your range of exercises

Always going through the same routine in your workouts can reduce their effectiveness, and also presents the risk of overstressing one part of the body. When your body becomes too accustomed to the movements in a particular workout it will rob you of many of the benefits of the exercise, so this is something you definitely need to avoid.

It is therefore important that you vary the kind of exercises you do. By using ankle weights, you will be able to add weight to different parts of your body. Because of the versatility of ankle weights, they can be used while you are standing, sitting, and lying on your stomach or back.

However, you need to be careful not to walk too intensively while wearing ankle weights. According to a University of Kentucky study, walking with ankle weights can lead to inappropriate walking form and stress your knees, leading to joint damage. It can even slow you down when you’re trying to walk fast.

Ankle weights can help you strengthen your muscle

climbing stairs, strong legsAside from increasing your range of motion, ankle weights can actually help you strengthen your muscles. According to the journal American Family Physician, ankle weights have a side benefit of reducing ankle strain in patients, and they can be used as part of the management of preexisting ankle sprains.

The reason is that pains in your ankle are likely due to weakened muscles. Improving ankle strength will reduce the pain, and using ankle weights is one way to do that. Ankle weights can also help strengthen muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps and thighs.

Burn more calories

When you exert more effort in your workouts, which you do when you make use of ankle weights, you will be able to burn more calories. Repetitive workouts without ankle weights burn calories too, of course, but using them will consume more calories in the same amount of time – or if you’re very busy, the same amount of calories in less time!

More resistance for abdominal workouts

One of the most difficult areas of the body to train is the lower abdominal section. Adding ankle weights to your abdominal routine can help tone your lower abs because it helps you to maintain a pelvic tilt during your workout. You can perform bicycle workouts with ankle weights instead of doing sit ups; you can also perform knee-to-chest exercises and reverse your abdominal lift.

While you’re at it, make sure you don’t swing and keep the movement slow so that you can avoid back injuries.

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Gillian Callaghan
 

Gillan is a passionate health and fitness writer that regularly contributes to ThinkHealthiness.com, as well as other sites across the web.

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