Do ankle weights boost your steps?
I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons Fitness Trackers have been so successful, both in terms of sales and helping people to get fit and lose weight, is the comparability of “Steps”. Because a Step is just that, a step, it’s easy to build Challenges or Duels between groups of people with what is a reasonably level playing field. And that’s great because it gets people motivated and up and moving.
But there’s a problem. As your fitness improves, it requires less physical effort to hit the 10k goal. Less effort means less benefit and so the benefits tail off. Then motivation may begin to falter.
So at this point perhaps we need to focus on something other than Steps. A while ago I switched from a daily 10k Step goal to a Daily Calorie goal of 3,400. It’s a bit arbitrary, but I figured that since the MyFitnessPal BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) calculator reckoned I burned 1,760 calories just existing, and that there is likely a bit of latitude in my Fitness Tracker’s Calorie calculation, a 3,400 Calorie target should ensure I create a meaningful daily deficit and still leave room for the odd reward (Beer, Wine etc.).
So then the problem becomes, how to hit that calorie goal. The nice thing is that moving away from Steps to calories means a wider range of activities (basically anything that burns Calories) contribute to the target and I can go for a bike ride without fretting about losing Steps. BUT in principle, it still means I need to give more time out of my day to burning Calories, which is not always practical, So I wondered about making my existing activities more Calorie intensive.
One way I thought of was to use ankle weights to increase the energy needed to move and control my legs. Ever the experimenter, I decided to see if there was any measurable difference with and without Ankle weights. So I decided to do a rough study using a MyZone belt (since a chest band should be the most accurate way to measure Heart Rate and hence effort).
The test was simply this.
The charts above show the results from MyZone. It shows that there seemed to be an effect when using the ankle weights, in fact one whole Myzone “MEP” or Myzone Effort Point, but it’s not as great as I thought it would be, which is disappointing. Of course all this is very unscientific.
The effect of wearing ankle weights for larger periods of the day could still be helpful though and I like the idea of an all-day boost to my Calorie burn.
A word of warning, if you decide to try ankle weights, don’t blame me if you trip up a kerb or whatever as your body adapts to the extra weight of your feet and gets it wrong. I am not recommending that you use ankle weights. Use them at your own risk!
Peter Stokes, 24/05/2016