If I wore them when I'm not exercising, like if I wore them at work (I work in an office), or at home, all day, would it be like a passive form of exercise?

To estimate how much I walk: I guess I walk to the bus stop, probably about 100-200 metres. Get off bus, maybe 100 metres. Then I sit around all day. But maybe go and talk to somebody two or three times - average distance maybe 5-10 metres (?). Go to kitchen or toilet maybe three times (i drink a lot of water), so that's probably about 50 metres away? Maybe I'll take the stairs too, that's 5 floors up and down. Probably its barely half a km in total.

Would wearing ankle weights help me get fitter or will it not be enough to make any sort of difference?

  • Too bad I can't really test it as I sit down all day and don't have any ankle weights. But could you provide an estimate of how many steps you take each day?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 9:12
  • @Ivo : I added some details
    – stickman
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 13:57
  • well other people's opinion is, wearing ankle weights, it prevents you from growing taller...you will grow hops(you can jump higher)...
    – user3043
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 5:19

10 Answers 10


My sensei used to work out with ankle weights and wrist weights when he was younger. This was against his sensei's advice. He would keep doing it until they wore out (and shot the metal bars out the bottom when he was kicking a target), and then replace the weights.

The bottom line is that the body is not meant to deal with those additional stress of that weight at the extremities. He ended up having to get both hips replaced later in life due to the unnatural stresses the ankle/wrist weights put on his body.

If you do add weight, use something like a weighted vest. It provides a more natural balance of weight and doesn't interfere with the normal motion of your legs and arms. Additionally, you can add more weight when it is close to your body than you can at your ankles and wrists, providing a better advantage.

That said, I agree with Ivo's advice: find more excuses to walk more during the day.

  • 1
    +1 - It's totally unnatural to carry weight on one's extremities for any sustained period of time. Ankle weights ruin one's stride and otherwise create a horrible imbalance on natural movement.
    – wdypdx22
    Commented May 31, 2011 at 18:32

About.com has a nice article about ankle/walking weights. They estimated the following:

Adding weight will allow you to burn more calories per mile, but only about 5-8 calories more per mile for every 10 pounds added. Compare that to walking a quarter of a mile - a 100 pound person burns 15 calories in a quarter mile at an easy pace, while a 200 pound person burns 30 calories. That takes only 5 more minutes and you aren't increasing your risk of injury.

This is similar to the question about walking up stairs, where I calculated that the additional calories are simply not worth it. This isn't an excuse to stop taking the stairs, instead you need to realize that walking only a 1000 steps per day simply isn't enough exercise.

Increasing the workload with even 20% would still only be the equivalent of 1200 steps, while you probably should be targeting 10.000 steps. As you can see you're almost an order of magnitude behind on the amount of exercise you should be getting and just adding the weights isn't going to cut it.

So my advice would be to not use weights, but find more 'excuses' to walk more during the day.


Yes. A negative one. You will destroy your knees and hips if you wear ankle weights all day long. Your body was not made to handle excess weight at your extremities for that length of time.

  • That's a rather bold claim, if the weights are small there's no more risk than when wearing heavy duty army boots. Besides, this would imply our body also isn't made to carry excess fat at our extremities...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 15:34
  • Yea I'll agree that the amount of weight makes a difference. But also fat is a different story. It is "natural" weight in the sense that it is internal, has a different distribution and more support than and external weight would have. And coincidentally, people store most of their excess fat near the core, not extremities. So our bodies are really not made to store fat at the extremities.
    – moesef
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 21:48
  • Downvoted for claim with nothing to back it up. If you apply this logic, then wearing boots is also harmful. (And they may be...) Commented Dec 5, 2022 at 14:34

I work for a hospital and I wear ankle weights my full shift sometimes 4, 5, 6 days in a row. I take the stairs and I walk fast. I lost 12 pounds in 3 months just adding the ankle weights without even dieting. I also drink a lot of coke (two cans a day) and ya I know it's not healthy but I don't drink alcohol or eat junk food and I am a vegetarian.

But, I also ride horses and jump on a trampoline and use wrist weights. I have never had one single problem wearing them as long as I wear very good tennis shoes. I wear the black sketchers high top so the weights actually rest on my tennis shoes not on my ankles. The weights never even touch my ankles.

I rode horses and jumped on a trampoline years before using ankle weights so I know for a fact the ankle weights are what worked. I only wear them at work and if my legs start to feel tired I just take them off. I probably walk 5 to 10 miles during my shift around the whole entire hospital.

I actually have very firm legs and no muffin top anymore. I love wearing them and if I don't wear them I feel off balance now.

They hide under my scrubs so no one knows I'm wearing them. Anyway, ankle weights have been a success for me. I'm 47 and had my only child at 40 and I have a better body now than I did before I had a child. My stomach is flat and I have more curves than I have ever had in my life and I actually have a waist.

These are my own personal results. I also have a friend who is a hair dresser that wears them every day and I started wearing them because she started looking so much firmer and leaner in her leg and butt area.

I think they can work for some people. They definitely work for me. I love love love them.


Some of the replies claim that the difference in calories is negligible because you are only adding 10 lbs of weight, but it is important to remember that ankle weights are not passively carried near your center of gravity, but are taking advantage of the physics of rotational motion meaning that a small weight a long distance (about a meter) from the center of gravity increases the moment of inertia SIGNIFICANTLY, thus requiring much more work and burning many more calories. The number of calories burned will be dependent on the length of your leg.

  • 1
    Do you have any credible sources to back up your claims?
    – Baarn
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 1:29

Unless you are moving I can't see how they help. If you are not warmed up and then get up to move about you may risk more strain as the tissues involved are not flexible when colder.

I train with 15kg on each leg (scrap lead bolted to gravity boots) and wear weights elsewhere up to 100kg. I've built up to this over several years yet I don't wear them till I'm warm and have done basic body weight exercises. Even then the longest I've kept them on for is an hour, but usually it's half that.

That's enough.

I doubt there's any positive benefit to anyone not in an active job wearing weights during the day.

Its just a considered opinion not an expert one mind.


Apparently an experiment in birds, where they hanged a 1/10 of their weight off their wings for entire days increased their muscle mass by 53% in the 15 days period. If you manage to find ankle weights 1/10 of of your weight you could probably replicate this experiment. Many smiths do make metal ankle weights if you are a heavy one or you could just wear more than 1 ankle weight per leg.

Role of muscle fiber hypertrophy and hyperplasia in intermittently stretched avian muscle.

In the chronic stretch model, muscle fiber hyperplasia precedes fiber hypertrophy [Alway et al. Am. J. Physiol. 259 (Cell Physiol. 28): C92-C102, 1990]. This study was undertaken to determine if an intermittent stretch protocol would induce fiber hypertrophy without fiber hyperplasia. A weight equalt to 10% of the bird's mass was attached to the right wing of seven adult quail while the left wing served as the intra-animal control. The weight was attached to the wing for 24-h periods interspersed with a 48- to 72-hr rest interval. The actual stretch time was 5 days while the length of the treatment period was 15 days. Muscle mass and length increased significantly 53.1 +/- 9.0 and 26.1 +/- 7.3% in the stretched anterior latissimus dorsi. Fiber number, which was determined from a histological section in the midregion of the muscle, did not change (control 1,651.6 +/- 94.8; stretch 1,626.0 +/- 70.9). The slow tonic fiber areas increased significantly an average of 28.6 +/- 5.7%, whereas the fast fibers increased 18.5 +/- 8.4% when compared with control values. Mean fiber area (average of slow and fast fibers) increased significantly by 27.8 +/- 6.0% in the stretched anterior latissimus dorsi. There were no differences in the percentage of slow fibers or volume density of noncontractile tissue. These data indicate that muscle adapts differently to intermittent stretch than it does to chronic stretch despite an equivalent load and stretch duration. In contrast to chronic stretch, 5 days of intermittent stretch produces muscle fiber hypertrophy without fiber hyperplasia


I used to wear 20 lbs through out the day. This was a big stress to my knees, which are perfectly healthy. Now i wear only 4 lbs. It may not seem like a lot but its been 3 days constantly and my legs are still not used to them. I run with them, wear them to work, and wear them at home. I estimate another week or two and my legs will be used to them like they are my own weight. Unless you work out with them they wont do too much.


Weighted vests people. Benefits you are looking for in the wrists and legs bands but less chance of injury because the weight isn't localized at the max leverage point of your extremities.


I think you'd be okay as long as you did a gradual build-up. A drastic increase in weight could definitely cause an injury, but wearing them a half hour the first day, an hour the second, etc. slowly working your way to all day would be fine I'm sure. The human body can handle a lot, it just has to get there slowly.

  • 1
    Doesn't really answer the question of "will it make any difference?"
    – Eric
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 13:43

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