The Weighted Vest: Improve Your Fitness, Posture, Bone Health …and Spiritual Life!


As a fitness professional, I enjoy trying out the latest gadgets and workout equipment. I prefer doing a field test myself before deciding whether or not I can recommend a new way to exercise.

When weighted vests began to pop up everywhere a few years ago, I purchased an adjustable 20-pound vest that both my husband and I could use. We often walked together and took turns wearing the vest, but I found it rather bulky and uncomfortable. It seemed designed more for a man than for a woman.

The vest gathered dust in a closet until just recently when I came across a 5-pound weighted vest at Home Goods (of all places) that was designed for women. I paid about half the price of the one at the link, but I found a similar vest that adjusts from 4-8 pounds at Target for just under $20.

I put on the vest and found it be very comfortable. I liked the way it forced me to stand up tall, with my shoulders back, reminding me to adopt a good posture. Following a suggestion on the box, I wore it while doing housework for an hour or so, which was supposed to burn more calories. This appears to be a valid claim as weight is a factor in how many calories a person burns during activity. The box also related details from a scientific study that showed using a weighted vest during exercise burns about 7-8% more calories than exercising without one.

My next test was to wear the vest on my weekly 4-mile walk. I wanted to add more intensity to make the walk more challenging, but I know that experts do not advise carrying dumbbells when walking. A vest is a great alternative and does not place stress on your joints the way hand weights do. The vest felt very comfortable until the last mile of the walk when it began to feel heavy and forced me to slow down my pace. Since I pray the Rosary while I exercise, I incorporated the discomfort into my prayer. As I meditated on the Sorrowful Mysteries, I imagined following Christ on the road to Calvary as I carried my own little cross behind him. I offered up the discomfort of the vest for my Rosary intention.

The vest is also useful for strength training. I do push-ups, dips, squats, lunges and other body-weight exercises while wearing the vest to increase the intensity. I am enjoying my workouts so much that I purchased a heavier 10-pound vest in a similar style. (I found mine at Marshalls for a fraction of the price.)

While doing research on the weighted vest, I also discovered that these vests can be used to prevent osteoporosis in older women. If you are concerned about bone health, print out the article to discuss with your doctor.

It is important to use caution when exercising with a vest for the first time. Wear it around the house for a while initially so that you become accustomed to the extra weight before trying it out on a walk or other type of exercise. If your vest is adjustable, begin with the lightest weight. If you do not normally walk at least a mile or so, then work up to this distance without the vest before attempting to wear it.

Finally, don’t underestimate the vest’s value for penance, especially during Lent. I try to fast on Fridays, and wearing the vest as I go about my daily chores reminds me of the weight of my sins and increases my resolve to atone for them.

Copyright 2012 Peggy Bowes


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  1. Thanks for this info. I wonder if it puts a strain on the back at all? Your book is what helped me start praying the rosary, but I do not usually do it with exercise. When I do my pace walking I place my kindle on large print and read some good RC books and pray about what I am reading. So do you think it strains the back at all?

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kim. I’m so glad you are praying the Rosary regularly!

    I found that the 5 pound vest does not strain my back at all. It’s comfortable to wear for a fairly extended time. Again, I would recommend starting out just wearing it around the house before using it for exercise, and even then to do so gradually. I did find that the heavier 10 pound vest pulled on my shoulders when I walked but did not affect my back even when walking on hills. The more I wear the heavier vest, the more comfortable it gets.

    I live in the South too (North Carolina) and so far the vest has not made me feel any warmer than without it, but we haven’t gotten above the 80’s yet. The design of the vest is simple and doesn’t cover too much of your back. As far as keeping it clean, I would just surface clean it. It’s filled with sand so you don’t want to put it in the washer. If I got really sweaty while wearing it, I might spray it with some Lysol or something. It’s worn over clothing so if you wear a top that wicks sweat and doesn’t expose bare skin where the vest will lie, then you should be fine.

    If you do decide to get one, please post again and let me know how it worked out.

  3. Thanks for the information. I will look for a supplier and see if I can offer a low cost 5-10 lb. weighted vest on my website. I will have to try it as well. It sounds like a great idea for burning extra calories. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it improved your posture. A majority of people I know would certainly benefit from that.

  4. I had been shopping for a weighted vest and they are so uncomfortable, ugly and make you look like you are packing a bomb. I found this vest they are NOT cheap (and I am no pro) but since I have osteopenia, I thought it was worthwhile for me. Mine is actually very comfortable. There are no pressure points (like on your shoulders) and I can rinse it out easily. If I weren’t so hot natured, I could even wear this under my clothes to work. The vest I bought has 10lbs of weight and I did buy another 5 lbs, but so far I haven’t added them.

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