Should you hold weights while you walk?

Why do you want weights while you walk? That’s the real question. Are you trying to increase intensity? Because the purpose, I want to make clear, should not be to turn your walk into a strength training session.

That’s what I’m answering today.

Should I add weights to my walk? I’ve been walking with ankle weights, one client told me. Here is my response to that.

Should you hold hand weights while you walk?

My answer: No.

You’re more likely to gain some stress or strain in the neck, upper back, and shoulders where women have a tendency to carry tension already than you are to burn more calories or get toned arms from walking.

Doing it anyway?

In order to minimize injuries, keep any handheld weights to 1-2 lbs is best which makes the improvement you’ll make minor compared to a dedicated 5 minutes of arm exercises at the end of your walk with heavier weights.

Don’t swing your arms, and definitely don’t be tempted to do bicep curls or something else while you’re walking. You will change your posture, gait, and forget potentially the purpose of why you’re walking.

If you’re determined to try it:

Try water bottles (or two)… the kind that fits into your palm and has a strap around the back of your hand. I have a small Camelback that holds about 12 oz. of water.

Fill with water and try that. You’ll find if you’re not used to them it changes things. Increase weight by filling with rocks or sand. For the heaviest, fill with rocks, then sand, then water.

Should you add ankle weights while you walk?

My Answer: No.

You’ll be more likely to change your gait, posture, and put torque on the knees.

And yet there’s one instance when adding weights to your walk could work for you.

Wearing a weighted vest as a way to add weights while you walk?


With certain conditions however, like osteoarthritis of the knees, additional weight could cause earlier pain from your exertion.

A heavy backpack is not the same. You’re changing your center of gravity, unlike when you have on a vest. That includes hauling a small child in a back or front carrier. You are changing your center of gravity, and that will change your posture, and gait which can lead to compensation and low back stress, or upper back and shoulder stress.

No Guidelines on Walking with Weights

There are no position statements or exercise guidelines in existence for carrying weights during walking. That alone tells us something. We’ve been walking and well aware of the value of it for physical and mental health benefits for decades. My recommendation is to leave the weights at home. Put on a weighted vest to perform your lower body weight training exercises at home. Especially if you’re at risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis, you’ll help yourself load your spine and hips more if you like me have temporarily selected to exercise exclusively at home.



Flipping 50 Fitness Specialist

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