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I've heard that running with weights is a bad idea. Most of what I've read online (for example, this) seems to suggest unequivocally that weights on your legs are a serious health risk, but there seems to be a little less consensus about weights held in your hands.

My assumption was that it would be good for toning my shoulders and arms. I had been running with 450 gm weights for a few years- holding them in my hand, not around my wrist, usually between 7 and 15 km (at about a 5 min/km pace). But after reading about it online I decided to stop temporarily, even though I hadn't experienced any negative side effects.

I'd appreciate links/evidence one way or the other, preferably not just anecdotal.

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I've stopped running with hand weights, and I can't say I regret it. –  Eyal Sep 20 '12 at 11:32
    
There's a similar (currently unanswered) question on one of the New York Times Wellness pages. –  Eyal Jun 1 '13 at 10:45
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This article has links to actual studies showing no significant benefit to doing cardio with hand or ankle weights:

...if you are walking at a 3.5 mph pace and burning 5 calories per minute--adding a hand or ankle weight may make it feel harder, but you aren't actually burning more calories. A 2002 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found no added benefit from wearing both ankle weights and holding hand weights at the same time! They compared 32 women who wore 1.5-pound ankle weights and held 3-pound hand weights while doing 50 minutes of step aerobics three times a week, with women who stepped using no weights. All the women improved their body composition, decreasing body fat and increasing lean body mass slightly. But the weights didn’t enhance the effect even though the workout felt harder!

Well known exercise physiologist, Len Kravitz, PhD, at the University of New Mexico conducted a study published in 1997 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He compared the long term effects of women who did step aerobics while holding hand weights that started at around 2 pounds and worked up to 4 pounds over a 12 week period. The women did a 30-minute step workout three days a week. At the end of the training period the women in both groups improved their fitness levels and decreased their body fat percentage. But the women who stepped while lifting weights did not get better results, suggesting that it was the step workout--not the hand weights--that produced the improved fitness effects.

I'd steer clear of running with the hand weights since the wrists are delicate and prone to repetitive stress injury.

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+1 for reference. I brought in an excerpt of the article, including the study links, so that we have them in case the link dies. –  Dave Liepmann May 11 '12 at 3:34
    
Interesting, I wouldn't use it to burn more calories, but to run slower (so lower impact forces on my legs) and still maintain the same heart rate –  Ivo Flipse May 14 '12 at 19:43
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I would say that while running with weights held in the hand probably doesn't share the same detrimental joint effects as running with ankle weights, it is a less than ideal way to build upper-body muscle. I'd do chin-ups and overhead barbell presses instead, either before or after the run, or in a separate workout.

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By running do you mean jogging or sprinting? If you jog, you rarely need to use a full motion swing of the arms, and really you're not supposed to fully open your arms (extended elbow) at any time. Your elbow is most bent, opening a small number of degrees. This is part of why the effect is less detrimental, because you are not putting an abnormal force at the end of a lever that usually is not there. Theoretically speaking, wrist weight are better than hand weights because they are closer to the vertex of your elbow.

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I run at between a 4-5 min/km pace (yes, that's a wide range). Sometimes I sprint the last 400 meters. But I think I've already reached the conclusion that I won't be using them anymore anyway :-) –  Eyal Jun 10 '12 at 12:04
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