Welcome friend! In this article, you will learn about weighted vests for seniors, what are they, how they can help you stay healthy, and if it’s something you should invest in.
You might have seen young people doing Crossfit or calisthenics using weighted vests to make their workouts harder or might have even seen someone running with one on.
The idea with weighted vests is to of course artificially increase your bodyweight so when you perform exercises you will have a higher resistance.
By doing something with a weighted vest on and becoming good add it over time, it will literally feel like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders when you take the vest off. And your performance will of course be enhanced.
This is all of course nice to hear about young athletes, but do weighted vests actually offer any benefits to seniors who are not performing strenuous calisthenics workouts or trying to increase their running strength?
If you are in a hurry, the answer is a yes. Weighted vests offer some benefits if you want to improve your physical health as a senior. Read on to find out what.
What Are Weighted Vests
Weighted vests are special vests that do exactly what the name suggests, weigh a lot. They can in several types of configurations ranging from a few pounds to up to 50 lbs.
Typically these vests are made of durable fabric like nylon and have pocket linings filled with sand or small metal balls. The heavier types often come with pockets for additional weights which typically consists of metal blocks that fit the pockets snuggly.
Lighter vests are typically used for cardio and HIIT workouts while heavier vests are typically used to increase resistance for calisthenics workouts.
How Weighted Vests Work
So how do weighted vests actually make your workouts more effective? It’s simple really. They basically make your body think it weighs more than it really does.
This naturally means that your body has to perform more work to complete any kind of exercise that involves moving the body in space.
It’s basically the same idea as with high-altitude training. You train under harsher conditions to increase performance under normal conditions. When you train with a weight vest and then remove it, you will feel lighter and stronger as your body has adapted to the increased weight.
In things like calisthenics, this simply means that you need more strength to perform repetitions. In strength training after you can perform 20 to 25 repetitions, you are not actually increasing strength or causing your muscles to grow you are just increasing stamina and endurance.
So if you want to increase strength you have to make the exercise somehow harder so you can only perform less than 20 reps. Adding weight is the easiest way.
So for example doing squats with only your bodyweight can progress to more than 20 reps very fast. By adding a weighted vest you can increase the resistance and thus make the exercise harder. This will lead to higher strength adaptions over time.
You can achieve this same effect by increasing weights at the gym or by choosing harder exercises. Some people use weighted vests during cardio simply to do more work and thus burn more calories in an effort to lose weight.
Are Weighted Vests Good For Seniors?
So we’ve established that weighted vests make exercise harder and thus improve your athletic performance. Great. But what if you are just a senior concerned about your health and not an athlete. Are weighted vests any use then?
Yes, they are. There is some evidence for the efficacy of weighted vests is the prevention of loss of muscle and bone mass in seniors and the elderly.
You see, as you age a few unfortunate things tend to happen to your body. Your hormonal and metabolic processes become less effective in building muscle and you tend to reduce activity levels due to several reasons (less energy, pain and discomfort, routines, etc.)
This will typically cause people to lose muscle mass and gain fat as they age. This can be countered quite effectively with exercise and diet, but the truth is that it’s hard in the modern world where we are encouraged to sit all day and consume very calorie-rich foods and beverages.
So inactivity can lead to muscle loss, frailty, obesity and metabolic disorders. Many people start losing weight at some point when doctor tells them they have metabolic disorders like high blood lipids and high blood sugar.
But here’s the thing. If you are both overweight and have little muscle mass, reducing calories and dropping weight can actually cause you to lose a lot of the little muscle mass you have left. It can also cause you to lose bone mass, leading to osteoporosis.
You see, any time you lose weight, you will lose not only fat but also muscle mass. This can be typically prevented with strength training and eating enough protein but most people losing weight are not aware of this or they might not get the correct information.
So it’s a lose-lose situation. Stay overweight and the metabolic disorders will reduce your lifespan or lose weight and in worst case scenario end up bedridden due to frailty in few years.
This is where weighted vests come in. The reduction in muscle and bone mass is thought to be partly because of reduced gravitational load (i.e. weighing less). By wearing a weighted vest while losing weight or simply exercising to keep healthy you will trick your body into thinking it weights more and needs more muscle mass to sustain itself. Or that’s the logic at least.
For example, this study showed that simply by wearing a weighted vest while losing weight, seniors were able to maintain power and muscle quality in the legs when wearing weighted vests for several hours a day for the duration of weight loss program compared to the control group. However, both groups lost muscle mass for the same amount. So there was some benefit for muscle strength but not muscle mass.
Wearing a weighted vest while walking for example is a great way to get exercise and make your body stronger. You will also burn more calories which is important if you need to lose weight. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence isn’t very strong for this helping to maintain muscle mass so a regular strength training routine might be a better bet for the long run.
If you are already normal weight and don’t need to lose weight a weighted vest will still help you get stronger and force your bones to become stronger.
How To Use Weighted Vests
The simplest way to use a weighted vest is to simply wear it for several hours a day while going for a walk or performing chores like cleaning.
Keep in mind that while it might not seem to hard at first, you need to take it slowly. Wearing the vest can increase your heart rate more than you realize so you need to give your body time to adapt. Start light and increase the wear time gradually over time.
Just by wearing the vest while doing light exercise, you are giving your body the signal it needs to build itself stronger while at the same time you will expend more calories which will help you in your fat loss efforts.
If you are already fit and healthy, you can get a vest with adjustable weights and use it to make your regular bodyweight exercises harder. Weighted vests are great for push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and jumping jacks for example.
That said, if you don’t like the idea of wearing a vest that can feel cumbersome and cause you to sweat, a regular 30-minute bodyweight strength workout every other day or so will probably yield even better results. And it’s free!
Best Weighted Vest For Seniors
The are many types of weighted vests on the market these days. Ranging from very light to over 150 lbs ones.
The heavy duty ones are too heavy for most seniors and they can be very uncomfortable to wear if you are not used to them. They usually reassemble a harness and are made out of durable nylon fabric with pockets for adjusting the weight.
For most seniors, I would recommend a more comfortable option. These types of vests are usually made out of neoprene or other soft and comfortable material that distributes the weight evenly on your shoulders, back and waist.
Here is a good example from Amazon. You can usually find similar vests locally from department stores and sports stores. It’s always a good idea to try them on before buying if possible.
I hope you found this article about weight vests for seniors useful and it gave you some ideas on how to make use of a weighted vest to improve your health. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you.
Weighted vests can be useful for seniors looking to simply improve and maintain their muscle and bones mass and thus general health. There is evidence that they can be used to prevent muscle loss while losing weight.
Weighted vests are also great for adding resistance to bodyweight exercise in case you are already fit and want to make your workouts harder.
That said, you can achieve the same results and more with simple strength. With body weight or equipment at the gym.
Thanks for reading and see you next time! If you liked the article remember to share it with your friends!