What to know about weighted vests, according to a fitness expert


(NEW YORK) — Walking or running with a weighted vest can enhance workouts and offer numerous health benefits.

In addition to walking and running, weighted vests can be utilized in activities like hiking and bodyweight exercises to increase intensity and resistance.

To help explain some of these benefits and inform your shopping decisions, ABC News tapped Casey Gilbert, a Barry’s instructor and the founder of CG Coaching.

“I love weighted vests because they increase the weight that you are carrying while working out without putting that load into your arms,” Gilbert said. “This is for people who might have weakness in their arms, or maybe have an arm injury and can’t carry things with their hands — it adds the weight you might be looking for.”

Why do you want to add weight to your body when walking?

Gilbert called weighted vests the “definition of functional fitness.”

“If you’re asking your body to be able to operate with a higher load — putting more weight on your body — you’re overloading the muscles so that when you are walking without a weighted vest, it feels like less impact and you’re able to move more freely,” Gilbert shared. “This is the definition of functional fitness, I find it really helpful.”

How much should my vest weigh?

Gilbert says comfort is key. Weights in these vests can vary widely, from as little as 5 pounds to over 50 pounds, and it’s important to choose a vest that allows you to start light and progressively add more weight as your strength and endurance improve, according to Gilbert.

“I always tell women who have children to stop lifting 5-pound weights unless their child weighs five pounds,” he added. “I would say 20 to 40 pounds is a great way to simulate things you’re gonna be carrying throughout the day and prepare your body for it so that you can strengthen your core, your joints, your ligaments, and of course, your muscles.”

Who should use a weighted vest?

Weighted vests are truly for anyone. Gilbert said that even for someone who might be older and have some mobility issues, just getting them to wear 5 or 10 pounds in a weighted vest while standing up and sitting down a few times is great exercise.

“This a great way to increase their upper body strengthen without adding a physical dumbbell or barbell,” he said.

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