Weighted Vests are exercise equipment that can be worn over the upper body to increase the intensity of any workout. They come with built-in pockets to carry small weights which determine how heavy your vest will ultimately be.
Weighted vests vary in type and purpose. There are weighted vests that cater exclusively to a sport or fitness regime. Running with a weighted vest can improve speed and stamina, while wearing weighted vests for CrossFit may help to strengthen certain muscle groups specifically.
These vests are also designed for people of various sexes and age groups. Weighted vests for children have proven to be beneficial in addressing the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like ADHD and Autism.
Weighted vests can also be used to alleviate symptoms of medical conditions like Osteoporosis, especially when worn by post-menopausal women. Research has shown that regular use of weighted vests can strengthen bones of the lower body.
Whatever be the purpose, controlled and regular use of weighted vests has shown to have enormous benefits on users[i].
However, one big question remains. Can you wear a weighted vest for extended periods of time, say, all through the day, and reap benefits? In this article, we examine the impact of doing just that, explaining the precautions and the benefits.
Is Wearing Weighted Vests All Day A Good Idea?
Yes, and No! The answer is complicated. It depends on various factors, like how much the vest is loaded, or what is the ultimate objective of trying this.
In high-intensity workouts, weighted vests are generally used to strengthen specific muscle groups. For example, if you lift weights regularly, you may discover that by employing a weighted vest, your weight-lifting capacity improves.
If you were able to do 4 squats with 200 lbs last month, you may be able to do 6 squats with 210 lbs this month, purely by training with a weighted vest. The same kind of results cannot be expected by wearing a weighted vest all day.
You cannot expect to visibly build muscles either. What you can expect, however, is an overall improvement in the muscle endurance of the body, so that it is able to get through the day with lesser fatigue.
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Benefits Of Wearing Weighted Vests All-Day
One of the biggest advantages of using weighted vests may be a loss in body weight in people with obesity. When you wear a weighted vest all day, over a period, you may be able to trick your brain into thinking that your body is heavier than it is.
Consequently, the body starts using up more calories to perform day-to-day activities. This helps in the loss of fat while retaining or improving muscle mass.
A scientific study published by the Gothenburg University examined the effect of wearing 24 lbs weighted vests, 8 hours a day, by morbidly obese people. It was observed that this led to a loss of 5.2 lbs of body weight in 3 weeks[ii].
Improved Agility And Balance
Agility is defined as the ability of the body to move quickly and easily. It influences your alignment and posture during movement. Though athletes and sportspersons need to be highly agile, the importance of agility in common people cannot be understated.
The more agile and flexible you are, the less prone you are to injury. Agility also ensures that you respond faster to external stimuli. Wearing weighted vests throughout the day has been found to positively impact agility in young men[iii].
We had earlier explained how wearing weighted vests all day can trick your brain into thinking that you are heavier than you actually are. Another consequence of this is the gradual strengthening of your muscles.
Though you may initially feel sore for a few days, the muscles all over your body will work harder and become stronger very soon. This is beneficial for your general health and may help you perform your day-to-day activities better.
An increase in strength will result in you being able to perform your physical activities more effectively and with greater ease.
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If you are an athlete or follow a regular training regimen, you may be able to uncover some radical improvements to your training. By wearing a vest with a lower weight than what you train with, all through the day, you will notice that your performance during your training improves.
You may be able to lift more weight, do more reps, or last longer on a treadmill. This is because of the improved endurance of muscles which the constant wearing of a weighted vest brings in.
Though wearing a weighted vest all through the day has numerous benefits, it carries its own risks. Not everyone can try to wear vests constantly, for it may result in serious injury.
Precautions To Be Taken While Wearing A Weighted Vest All-Day
Choosing The Right Vest
One of the most important factors to consider when you plan for prolonged use of weighted vests is their quality. Wearing the wrong kind of vest, even for a short while, can cause serious and long-term damage.
You must choose a vest that is made of sturdy, but comfortable material, like polyester or canvas. The material must also be reinforced especially around the weight pockets to ensure durability.
The shoulder must be padded well to prevent chafing. The weight-pockets must be spaced evenly in the front and back and must be located at chest level.
Lastly, the weights that come with the vest must be small and uniform. When possible, it is better to opt for solid iron weights instead of sandbags with iron fillings. The sandbags tend to tear with time, causing fillings to leak.
Loading Too Much
Weighted vests these days can be loaded to as much as 90 lbs. However, loads of this magnitude are to be used only for short durations, with the objective of achieving a predefined objective.
One must never attempt to wear such heavy weights all through the day, for it may overload the spine and send you to the ER. As a thumb rule, weighted vests must be loaded to a maximum of 10-15% of your body weight.
If you weigh 150 lbs, the weighted vest you wear throughout the day must not weigh more than 15 lbs. This too should be gradually loaded. You may start off in steps of 3 lbs gradually, allowing your body to acclimatize to the load.
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Your Other Accessories Need To Be Right
Wearing weighted vests throughout the day puts added pressure on various joints of your body. Your legs must carry that extra weight every time you move, and your spine has to balance right.
Your feet too have work extra to support the load, and it is hence very important to use proper footwear while wearing weighted vests. You must use shoes with enough cushioning, arch, and heel support.
If you are someone who walks around barefoot or wears minimalist shoes, you must change that when you are wearing a weighted vest.
Listen To Your Body
Not everyone is cut out to wear weighted vests all day. Some people adjust to the extra load after a few days, but some do not.
It is very important to pay attention to the little pain signals your body gives out and treat them with respect. Pushing through the pain or discomfort is a sure shot recipe for disaster.
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 medical practitioner or fitness trainer before using any weighted vest all day.
Everyone may have his or her unique issues, and your medical practitioner or fitness trainer is the best person to decide if you can wear a weighted vest all day.