Teens don't need ankle weights for an effective workout.
Medical experts tend to frown upon the use of ankle weights. Although ankle weights can make your workouts more demanding and build up your leg muscles, there are significant risks for teens as well as adults. The dangers for teens are particularly acute, since still-growing bodies are susceptible to damage. In addition, there are other ways to intensify your workouts, without the risks created by ankle weights.
While ankle weights add resistance to everyday exercises, they can stress growing bones in teens.
Consider the Benefits
Under ideal conditions, ankle weights might enhance your workout. As orthopedics and sports medicine expert Dr. Anthony Luke told the "Los Angeles Times," the use of ankle weights increases the amount of work your glutes, hamstrings and quads do during running, walking or other forms of exercise. "It's giving a better workout for those big muscles," says Luke. And since ankle weights require more effort, you enhance your cardio workout as well.
Weigh the Cost
Luke's endorsement of ankle weights is a limited one. If you already have joint problems, or discover that ankle weights lead to joint or leg pain, it's best to let them gather dust in the attic or garage. Exercise physiology expert Kent Adams opposes the use of ankle weights. He told the "Los Angeles Times" that ankle weights create unnecessary and perhaps dangerous amounts of stress on your joints. Your hips and knees can be impacted as well, especially if you are older or overweight - or you're a teenager with bones, muscles and joints that are still developing.
Teenage Bones and Bodies
Because the bodies of many teenagers, especially younger teens, aren't fully formed, any additional or unnecessary stress can cause problems. As KidsHealth notes, growth plates - which are located toward the ends of leg and arm bones - are not set until most girls are 13 to 15 years old and most boys are 15 to 17 years old. The still developing growth plates are softer than fully-formed bones, making them particularly susceptible to injuries and fractures. Ankle weights increase the risk of such injuries, which sometimes result in long-term problems such as arthritis.
Other Excellent Options
While some adults might be able to use ankle weights with no negative effects, teens should stay away from ankle weights entirely, especially since there are a number of excellent alternatives. For example, MayoClinic.com recommends ditching ankle weights in favor of simply picking up your walking or jogging pace. There are other options, too. You can interval train by alternating high-intensity bursts with your regular speed. Or you can add hill-climbing to your exercise routine to crank up the exertion level.