A reader recently told me that she was unable to wear a weighted vest and asked if I could I recommend a waist weight belt for walking and aerobic exercise. She wondered in the waist weight belt could increase weight bearing load on bones while exercising and increase bone density.This article was last updated on January 30, 2020
Table of Contents
- Weighted Vest or Weighted Belt?
- Importance of Fit
- Does the Belt Increase Bone Density?
- Recommended Belt
- The Diving Belt Alternative
- How to Use the Belt While Walking
- Feet and Knees
Not everyone is able to wear a weighted vest. Three common limitations that prevent people from using a weighted vest are
If either of these applies to you, perhaps a waist weight belt for walking and exercise can address your needs. You can use a waist weight belt instead of holding weights in your hands. This comes in handy when doing squats, lunges, heel drops, and other weight bearing and strength exercises.
Small build individuals often find it difficult to get a weighted waist belt that provide a snug fit. My first piece of advice to my clients is to make sure that the belt fits properly and comfortably! The last thing you want to deal with while you are exercising is a piece of equipment that is a distraction.
Several studies verify that weight bearing activities that incorporate belts with waist weights improve bone density and health.
One study (1) involved great cancer survivors (often subject to bone loss because of cancer therapy). the program participants were put on a structured exercise program.
The report stated that “by the fifth week of the program and through the end of the intervention, a waist weight belt was loaded with 5 pounds and participants spent 45 minutes on the treadmill three times per week.”
The women in the study “reported feeling empowered and positive about doing something for themselves to stay healthy”.
The research team indicated that “bone remodelling was stable, as demonstrated by the absence of significant changes in serum osteocalcin levels. The bone mineral density (BMD) outcome variable was exploratory, as bone density is not a sensitive marker when repeated at a 6-month interval.”
The research team went on to say: “The absence of a significant change in BMD suggests that a weight-loaded aerobic exercise intervention has the potential to maintain bone mass in women at risk for bone loss.”
In other words, the women in the study were able to maintain bone density through “weight loaded aerobic exercise” (in this case involving the waist weights).
The waist weight belt by All Pro on Amazon looks like a well designed weighted belt for individuals with osteoporosis. The product is called the All Pro Weight Adjustable Power Stride Exercise Belt.
It is an adjustable one size fits all waist weight belt. The belt has pockets that support one quarter pound iron weights and can scale up to 10 pounds in total. The 10 pound maximum is likely adequate for many women given that the studies (including the one mentioned above) had the women carry five pounds and experience positive results. It has support cushions for the lumbar and waist region (to reduce the pressure on those areas) and it a fluorescent strip for walking in low light conditions.
The All Pro waist weight belt has quite a few positive reviews and a number of endorsements from individuals who are of small stature and concerned about their bone health.
If the All Pro waist weight belt does not work for you I often suggest that my clients use a diving belt. Many of the diving belts have padded weights and this helps offset the pressure on your waist and lumbar regions.
I think that the Scuba Diving Pocket Weight Belt on Amazon will work for most people:
I would recommend soft mesh weights under five pounds. The Sea Pearls Soft Mesh Weights on Amazon (US) come in a variety of sizes:
Readers in Canada might try these soft mesh weights:
Readers in the United Kingdom might try these soft mesh weights:
[Please note that I receive a small commission from Amazon if you purchase the belt after clicking either of the above links.]
In the next section I describe how to configure the weights for the waist weight belt so that you can use it for walking and maximize the effect for your bones.
Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis
Exercise is an essential ingredient to bone health. If you have osteoporosis, therapeutic exercise needs to be part of your osteoporosis treatment program.
But what exercises should you do and which ones should you avoid? What exercises build bone and which ones reduce your chance of a fracture? Is Yoga good for your bones? Who should you trust when it comes to exercises for osteoporosis?
A great resource on exercise and osteoporosis is my free, seven day email course called Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis. After you provide your email address, you will receive seven consecutive online educational videos on bone health — one lesson each day. You can look at the videos at anytime and as often as you like.
- Can exercise reverse osteoporosis?
- Stop the stoop — how to avoid kyphosis and rounded shoulders.
- Key components of an osteoporosis exercise program.
- Key principles of bone building.
- Exercises you should avoid if you have osteoporosis.
- Yoga and osteoporosis — should you practice yoga if you have osteoporosis?
- Core strength and osteoporosis — why is core strength important if you have osteoporosis?
Enter your email address and I will start you on this free course. I do not SPAM or share your email address (or any information) with third parties. You can unsubscribe from my mail list at any time.
You should use a waist weight belt with at least five pockets. Number the pockets one through five. Here is how you should load the weights over time:
- Start with a single weight in the centre pocket — in this case, position (or pocket) three.
- Belts should allow even weight bearing through both sides of the belt.
- Over time as the belt starts to feel light, switch to two weights in pockets two and four.
- Add weights according to the following pattern:
- First, pockets two, three and four.
- Then, pockets one, two, four and five.
- Finally, load the belt fully by populating all of the pockets with weights.
Be patient and build your strength gradually.
Remember you are not just loading your hips but also your knees and feet. I have had clients who decided “more was better” and who started to wear their weighted vest (and waist weight belt) not only with exercise or walking but while doing chores around the house.
Unfortunately, their feet were not accustomed to the load and they developed plantar fasciitis. We soon got to the root of the problem but plantar fasciitis can be difficult to treat and is a real pain in the feet!
For more information, check out my Osteoporosis Guidelines.
By David Haberthür (image description page) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- M. Tish Knobf, PhD, RN, FAAN, Karl Insogna, MD, Loretta DiPietro, PhD, Kristopher Fennie, PhD, and A. Siobhan Thompson, MPH. An Aerobic Weight-Loaded Pilot Exercise Intervention for Breast Cancer Survivors: Bone Remodeling and Body Composition Outcomes. Biol Res Nurs. 2008 Jul; 10(1): 34–43. doi: 10.1177/1099800408320579