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Running is a superior exercise for calorie burn and heart conditioning. Adding a weighted vest may increase these benefits. You should already be a well-trained runner and work under the guidance of a fitness professional when adding a vest; running with improper form with an additional load could lead to injury. But, when you use an appropriate weight and training protocol, a weighted vest may be beneficial.
Wearing a weighted vest that equals about 10 percent of your body weight all day and during some training sessions may improve your overall running performance, according to a study in a 1987 issue of the вЂњEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology.вЂќ Researchers found that after four weeks of wearing the vest from morning to night and at every other training session, endurance athletes showed a better ability to use oxygen during exercise and improved running time to exhaustion. Increased ability to utilize the body's fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for quick bursts of energy, are likely responsible for the improvement in performance in the participants who wore the vests.
When you have a bigger body to propel as you run, you burn more calories. A 125-pound person burns 300 calories per half hour running at 6 mph, while a 155-pound person burns almost 375 calories in the same amount of time. Adding weight in the form of hand weights while running is not wise as they can put undue pressure on the wrists, shoulders and elbow joint. Ankle weights do not provide adequate resistance and could lead to changes in form that could cause muscle imbalances. If you keep your vest between 5 and 10 percent of your total body weight, you can increase the calorie burn of your run safely, says the American Council on Exercise. So, for a 150-pound person, your vest should weigh no more than 15 pounds.
A study published in the вЂњJournal of Strength and Conditioning ResearchвЂќ in 2012 found that wearing a weighted vest during the day, when not running or exercising, improved agility slightly but not running speed in healthy young men. The researchers concluded that using the vest during regular training 50 percent of the time for three to four weeks could yield the same modest results. If you run four times per week, wear a vest weighing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight to improve your ability to move quickly and nimbly during sports such as soccer, basketball or tennis.
Sport-specific training is usually the best way to become better at your goals. If you want to become a better runner, you are probably better off doing speed drills, tempo runs and hill repeats with just your body weight. If you are training for an event or activity that requires you to carry extra weight, such as a firefighter who must hold equipment while moving quickly, running with a weighted vest could add value.