The Physiologic Benefits of Weighted Shoes

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There
is a new kind of fitness shoe on the market. It is a weighted
shoe. Shoes used for jogging weigh less than a pound. Weighted
fitness shoes, depending on the size, weigh 2.2 to 4 pounds each.
Weighted shoes are worn only for walking (they should not be worn
for jogging or other kinds of high impact, vigorous exercise). Investigators
have found, however, that moderate exercise — i.e., walking — is
equally effective as vigorous exercise in preventing coronary heart
disease and some cancers, and in averting, or treating, insulin
resistance and Type 2 diabetes.1 Why the weight?
Studies show that adding a weight load to the lower part of the
body at the ankles or feet substantially increases calorie expenditure.
Walking in weighted shoes enables one, without changing his or her
diet or level of activity, to lose weight. Adding weight to the
feet also provides muscular resistance that strengthens and tones
one's legs, buttocks, lower back, and abdominal muscles.

Investigators
at Harvard carried out a prospective study of walking as compared
with vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease
in 72,000 female nurses aged 40 to 65 years, published in the New
England Journal of Medicine in 1999. Over an eight-year study
period they found that sedentary women had substantially higher
rates of coronary events (death and nonfatal heart attacks) than
women who were active. The authors assessed the comparative roles
of walking and vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary events
and found that the magnitude of risk reduction with vigorous exercise
was no greater than that found in women who walked briskly three
or more hours a week. Walking this amount each week reduced the
risk of coronary events by 30 to 40 percent. Using statistically
sophisticated multivariate relative-risk analyses, authors of this
study estimate that more than one-third of coronary events among
middle-aged women in the U.S. are attributable to physical inactivity.2

Children,
adolescents, and men and women of all ages benefit from walking.
A meta-analysis of childhood obesity published in Medicine &
Science in Sports & Exercise (in 2002) found that the exercise
program which was most effective in reducing body weight and percent
body fat in this age group (age 5–17) was long walks, combined
with repetition resistance exercise.3
Wearing weighted shoes on long walks further increases caloric expenditure,
thereby helping to further reduce body weight and percent body fat,
and they also provide a form of repetition muscular resistance while
walking.

Americans
today are becoming more sedentary and are experiencing an epidemic
of obesity, insulin resistance (also known as metabolic syndrome),
and Type 2 diabetes. Currently, 65 percent of US adults are overweight
or obese, as measured by the Body Mass Index.4
Thirty-one percent are clinically obese. Americans weigh on average
eight pounds more than they did fifteen years ago. The Surgeon General's
report on overweight and obesity issued in 2000 says that less than
one-third of US adults engage in the recommended amounts of physical
activity and 40 percent do not engage in any leisure time physical
activity.5 Type 2 diabetes, brought
on by obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, afflicts 20 percent of
the US population over age 65. Another twenty percent of the US
population has developed insulin resistance (which turns into diabetes
when the beta cells in the pancreas wear out making extra amounts
of insulin trying to overcome the body's growing resistance to it).
Worse than smoking, obesity combined with a sedentary lifestyle
is the principle reason why two-thirds of people in this country
die prematurely from cancer and cardiovascular disease.6

Another
report by the U.S. Surgeon General on Physical Activity and Health7
notes that a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that
physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease
(the most common cause of death in both men and women) and some
cancers (colon cancer, in particular, and, according to some studies,
breast and prostrate cancer). The report goes on to say that most
Americans have little or no physical activity in their daily lives.
It reviews prior public health recommendations and points out that
they have evolved from emphasizing vigorous activity for cardiorespiratory
fitness to now include "the option of moderate levels of activity
for numerous health benefits." The report advises people of
all ages "to include a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity
of moderate intensity (such as brisk walking) on most, if not all,
days of the week." For people who can't find the time to do
this and remain physically inactive, wearing weighted shoes is an
alternative. In physically inactive people, wearing weighted shoes
throughout the day while performing the activities of daily living
(walking about the house, at work, doing household chores, preparing
meals, shopping, walking back and forth to one's car in parking
lots, etc.) can provide needed, and otherwise not obtained, aerobic
exercise and leg muscle strengthening. People who follow the Surgeon
General's recommendations on physical activity and take brisk walks
three to four hours a week will achieve added benefits when they
wear weighted shoes on their walks.

What
is the metabolic effect of adding a few pounds of weight to one's
feet? Soule and Goldman studied the energy cost of loads carried
on the head, hands, or feet of young soldiers.8
They found that weights on the feet produces a six-fold increase
in energy cost (caloric expenditure) compared with the same amount
of weight carried on the torso, and a three-fold increase in energy
cost compared with the same weight carried in the hands. A relatively
small amount of weight added to the soles of the feet, therefore,
has a disproportionately magnified effect on caloric expenditure.

 


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A
185-lb. man walking three miles in an hour expends 300 kcal/hr (kcal
= kilocalories, commonly referred to simply as calories). Studies
show that the same walk wearing weighted shoes (3.1 lbs. each) generate
a caloric expenditure of 600 kcal/hr.9
An individual who consumes 2,000 kcal of energy a day engaging in
daily tasks, without exercise, will nevertheless increase her caloric
expenditure by 25 percent by wearing weighted shoes, to 2,500 kcal
a day. One pound of body fat has 3,500 kcal of stored energy. If
a person carries out his or her daily tasks in a pair of weighted
shoes, he or she will burn an extra 3,500 kcal a week — and thereby
shed one pound of fat. Taking off one to two pounds a week is a
healthy way to lose weight.

At
any given time in the U.S., 33 to 40 percent of women and 20 to
24 percent of men are trying to lose weight. Dieting does not work.
Most people regain two-thirds of the weight they lose within one
year — and all of it back, and sometimes more, within five years.
They lose weight by following a special kind of diet (low fat, high
protein, or some other kind) and regain it when they resume their
regular, "normal" eating habits. Wearing weighted shoes
enables people to lose weight and keep it off.

The
foundation of an exercise program is aerobic movement — walking,
jogging, bicycle riding, swimming, rowing, dancing, skating, bouncing
on a trampoline, jumping rope, cross-country skiing, etc. — but
one also needs to do stretching exercises to increase flexibility,
and weight training to tone and strengthen the muscles and
increase muscle mass. A weight load in the soles of one's shoes
works the muscles of the spine, abdominal muscles, gluteal (buttock)
muscles, and the thigh and leg muscles simultaneously. The repetitive
motion of walking in weighted shoes firms and tones these various
muscle groups. Muscles burn calories more quickly than other tissues
in the body, and having a well-toned muscle mass, which weighted
shoes help provide, is an important factor in maintaining a healthful
weight.

Wraparound
ankle weights provide the same physiologic benefits as weighted
shoes do, but they are much less comfortable and can place too much
strain on the unsupported ankle and injure it. It is much better
to place leg-bearing weights in the sole of a shoe. That way padding
in the upper part of the shoe can support the ankle.

iWellness™
designs ergonomically engineered weighted fitness shoes called
MetaTreksu2122.10 Multiple, small bars
of steel laid transversely in the sole add 2.2 to 3.1 pounds of
weight resistance, depending on the shoe size, to each foot. Like
with regular fitness shoes, these shoes are flexible, support the
foot's natural movements, and are comfortable to wear.11
They are durable, and the rubber outer sole is designed for good
traction. The sole is laminated with shock absorbing Neopontex.
The inner lining of the shoe contains charcoal for antibiosis and
deodorization, along with nano silver to prevent and eradicate athlete's
foot.

Comfortably
fitting, weighted shoes are a new technology that enables busy people
to "exercise" while they go about their daily activities.
MetaTreks also come in black and, attractively designed, can be
worn at work. Weighted shoes are made for low-impact exercise. You
should not play tennis or jog in them. Walking in them, briskly
or leisurely, is enough. As with any type of equipment, listen to
your body. These shoes take time to get used to. They should be
used moderately at first. Some people prefer to wear them on alternate
days in order to give their muscles a rest. Once acclimated, however,
they can be worn on a daily basis.

Weighted
shoes are the next generation in fitness shoes. They enhance the
benefits of walking, a low-impact, joint-sparing, moderate form
of exercise that has been shown to have the same health benefits
as more vigorous exercise. These benefits include a reduced risk
of cardiovascular disease and cancer; and preventing insulin resistance
and Type 2 diabetes, which is a consequence of obesity and physical
inactivity. Exercise, enhanced by wearing weighted shoes, has also
been shown to help lower high blood pressure, keep one's bones strong,
prevent osteoporosis, and help relieve stress.

Notes:

  1. Walker KZ,
    Piers LS, Putt RS, Jones JA, O’Dea, K. Effects of regular walking
    on cardiovascular risk factors and body composition in normoglycemic
    women and women with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 1999;
    22: 555-561.
  2. Manson
    JE, Hu FB, Rich-Edwards JW, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC,
    Speizer FE, Hennekens CH. A prospective study of walking as compared
    with vigorous exercise in the prevention of coronary heart disease
    in women. N Engl J Med 1999; 341: 650-658
  3. LeMura,
    LM and Maziekas, MT. Factors that alter body fat, body mass, and
    fat-free mass in pediatric obesity. Med Sci Sports Exerc
    2002; 34: 487-496.
  4. The Body
    Mass Index (BMI), used by doctors and insurers to measure obesity,
    is the relationship between a person’s height and weight, where
    BMI = W/H2 (W is weight in kilograms and H is height in meters).
    Individuals with a BMI 18.5 to 25 are normal weight (those less
    than 18.5 are underweight). People with a BMI greater than 25
    are classified as overweight and those with a BMI over 30, as
    obese – 30-34.9, moderately obese; 35-39.5, severely obese;
    and greater than 40, massively/morbidly obese. To calculate your
    BMI using weight in pounds and height in inches, multiply your
    weight by 703 and divide this by your height multiplied by itself-W
    (lbs.) x 703/H (in.) x H (in.) = BMI.
  5. U.S. Department
    of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to
    Action Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Atlanta,
    Ga: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for
    Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease
    Prevention and Health Promotion, 2000. Stock number 017-001-00551-7.
  6. For more
    on this subject see Miller DW, Miller LL. Technologies for Maintaining
    Optimum Health and a Strong Immune System. On www.donaldmiller.com.
  7. U.S. Department
    of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health:
    A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Ga: U.S. Department
    of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and
    Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and
    Health Promotion, 1996. Stock number 017-023-00196-5.
  8. Soule RG,
    Goldman RF. Energy cost of loads carried on the head, hands, or
    feet. J. Appl. Physiol. 1969; 27: 687-690.
  9. Studies
    done at Han-Lim University Laboratory of Shoes (in Korea) by Guak
    Chang-Su and
    at Osaka University School of Health and Sport Sciences (in Japan)
    by Mitsuhiko Masuhara.
  10. The company’s
    Website is www.iwellness.us.
  11. U.S. Patent
    No. 6,397498.

March
5, 2003

Donald
Miller
(send him mail)
is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University
of Washington in Seattle. He is a member of Doctors
for Disaster Preparedness
and writes articles on a variety
of subjects for LewRockwell.com. His web site is www.donaldmiller.com

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Best of Donald Miller

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