Running is a very popular and easy form of physical activity. Regular running helps in improving cardiovascular health and in burning calories.
However, many long-term runners face one drawback. Over the course of time, after runners have logged in several hundred miles over months or years, the activity becomes less effective as a workout.
This is because the muscles of the body get used to the type of exercise, and the incremental benefit one gets from running diminishes.
One way of overcoming this obstacle is to try wearing a weighted vest while running. A weighted vest is a workout accessory that fits over the upper body, to which small weights can be added to make your workouts more intensive.
Weighted vests have several benefits. Firstly, they improve the effectiveness of your exercises. They can also slow down and reverse the progression of ailments like osteoporosis.
You may refer to our article to identify the best weighted vest for osteoporosis. In recent times, there is growing evidence to support the use of weighted vests in kids with developmental disorders like autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Will Running With a Weighted Vest Help?
Weighted vest running can have profound benefits on the body. Running, and using a weighted vest, both activities are beneficial to the body even when done independently.
Therefore, doing them together multiplies the positive impact on the body. By merely adding resistance to your workout, the weighted vest can enhance cardiovascular, skeletal, and muscular fitness.
Benefits of Running With a Weighted Vest
1. It Helps Burn More Calories
Performing any activity with the additional weight directly impacts the calories you burn. Running is no different. For example, a 150-pound man running for 30 mins will burn more calories than a 135-pound man doing the same, purely because of the difference in body weight.
However, if the 135-pound man can run for 30 minutes with a 15-pound weight, he would burn as many calories as the 150-pound man.
When you run with a weighted vest, your body needs to work that much harder to move you forward, ensuring that you burn more calories without needing to run faster or for a longer distance.
People who run frequently to keep their weight in check can make use of weighted vests to improve the productivity of their exercise regimen. According to the CDC, a 154-pound person running for 30 mins burns about 295 calories[i].
If wearing a vest weighing can help burn 10% more calories, the same person would end up burning 325 calories.
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2. It Improves Cardiovascular Capacity
Running is defined as a vigorous-intensity aerobic activity by the CDC, which recommends including 75 minutes of running or jogging in your weekly routine[ii]. When you run with the additional weight, you have more labored breathing, experience a higher heart rate, and consume more oxygen.
Your VO2 max improves and your lactate threshold increases. All these lead to one thing: an improved cardiovascular capacity.
3. It Increases Bone Mineral Density
Minerals like calcium are highly essential for strong bones. With advancing age, women tend to become susceptible to mineral deficiencies, thereby leading to easy fractures. Research has shown that using weighted vests helps stabilize bone density[iii].
Running alone tends to strengthen the spine, pelvis, and legs. However, running with weighted vests can significantly improve the mineral density of the spine and the bones in the lower body.
4. It Improves Muscle Strength and Endurance
Muscle endurance is the ability of the muscles in the body to perform repetitive contractions over extended periods of time. It has been shown that wearing weighted vests regularly during runs makes muscles stronger and improves their endurance.
Consequently, the body becomes capable of running longer and covering more distance. Performing weighted vest running workouts also stimulates cells called osteoblasts which help in the formation of new bone tissues.
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Precautions to Take While Running With a Weighted Vest
While running with weights has several benefits, it is important to take necessary precautions to avoid injuries and long-term damage to the body.
1. Loading Weights Gradually
When using weighted vests, it is very important to add small weights and progress slowly. Since you will be putting 2-3 times your body weight on your feet while running, it is important not to overload your lower body too soon and make it susceptible to injury.
It is recommended that the weighted vest be loaded in multiples of 3 pounds. Also, care should be taken to ensure that the total weight does not exceed 10% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, please do not use weights in excess of 15 pounds.
2. Distributing Weights Evenly
Since running is a high-intensity workout activity, any loss of balance can easily cause falls and injuries. Furthermore, any loss of running style and balance can also cause excessive stress on one or more bone or muscle groups, leading to early wear and tear.
Hence it is very important to use weighted vests property and to load them carefully. Weights should be secured tightly and be balanced towards the center of the body. If the weights move about during your run, they may throw you off balance.
Care should also be taken not to add too much weight so that the body can learn to adjust and maintain balance while running.
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3. Joint Problems
If you are suffering from any pre-existing joint problems, please be very cautious about using weighted vests for running. Since running by itself causes strain on joints, adding any weight may cause long-term damage.
Please consult a doctor in case you are doubtful of the strength of your joints.
4. Giving Yourself Enough Non-Weight Time
Though weighted vests can help in improving the muscles and bones in the body, care should be taken to not overuse them, for their excessive use can lead to problems. Give yourselves breaks between periods of weighted vest usage, and more importantly, remove the vest after your run.
5. Ensuring It Doesn’t Get Too Hot
Running can leave you hot and sweaty. You may find your tee dripping with sweat even after a short run.
If you were to add a layer of a weighted vest, it can quickly get too hot for you. Please take care to drink additional water to avoid any dehydration resulting from the use of weighted vests.
While we make every effort to provide updated and correct information, the advice given in this article and website should not be construed as “medical advice”.
Please consult with your physician or medical practitioner before using any weighted vests for running. Everyone may have his or her unique issues and your medical practitioner is the best person to decide the best knee massager for your case.