Study Sheds Light on Calorie Burn
Weighted vests have long been one of the worst kept secrets in fitness and health. Use was limited to high level athletes who would constantly train with a weighted vest for performance-based goals. Studies back using weighted vests for athletic performance, with much research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the Journal of Applied Physiology and the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. But what about the rest of the population? Studies have shown that walking with a weight vest can build bone density for people with osteoporosis. In addition, new studies show the benefits of using weighted vests for weight loss for the general population.
A new study by Claes Ohlsson from Eclinical Medicine sought to answer how daily usage of a weighted vest can affect weight loss. His work centered around an obese population, with two different groups. One using a light weighted vest of 1 pound, and one group using 10 percent of their body weight. The results were astounding. His study found that using a weighted vest for 8 hours a day significantly improved weight loss for each subject. The results also showed that the group who used 10 percent of their body weight lost more weight than the group who only used a pound. This concept intuitively makes sense. If someone works harder over a longer period of time, they will burn calories. In the next few years science will continue to advance and dig up more evidence backing weighted vests for fat loss and for athletic performance. This has been the case across the field, as Exercise Science has only been around for 50 years. There is a limited but growing number of weight vest studies.
This leads to the question of what a weighted vest should look like. There are many options on the market, so finding the correct one for a specific need is paramount. First and foremost, fit needs to be considered. Whether you want to perform at a high level or lose weight, a vest should feel comfortable. It should be snug enough that the weighted vest doesn’t bounce while also comfortable enough that it doesn’t bother someone to wear. An athlete should be a more focused on the snugness so that the weight doesn’t bounce during exercise. Meanwhile those who want to lose weight would benefit from a slightly more comfortable fit.
After figuring out what weighted vest fits correctly, the next question should be how much weight should the vest consist of. As with everything in fitness the answer depends on the situation. Most athletes will use a vest for speed and agility work. Although extra load helps, too much added on will hinder a movement pattern. This same concept applies with those interested in weight loss. The vest needs to have a high load as the studied showed, but still must be manageable. It would be terribly uncomfortable to wear an extra 50 pounds all day, but 10 or 20 would be completely fine.
As with everything in fitness, science is the slowest part of the process. Studies must be backed by multiple trials, multiple volunteers and sort out any confounding variables. This process takes time. Trust the high-level performers and let the science catch up. Just like science is starting to do with weighted vests.