Q: Is it a good idea to walk with hand weights or ankle weights?

A: No, it is not. Adding weight while walking will not burn significantly more calories or build extra muscle—instead, it may land you in the doctor’s office. Why is that? If you have ever used a pedometer to track your footsteps, you know that people typically take thousands of steps each and every day. When you add extra weight to a natural repetitive movement such as walking, you overload your muscles and joints and create imbalances that can quickly lead to inflammation, pain and decreased range of motion in your neck, shoulders, back, knees and/or ankles.

Fortunately, there are safe and simple ways to boost the challenge of your walking routine without using hand weights or ankle weights. To build up your muscle strength and cardiovascular stamina…

• Tackle some hills during your walk.

• Try to increase your walking speed.

• Include intervals in your workout by walking for four minutes, then jogging for 30 to 60 seconds. Over time, as your fitness level improves, gradually increase the ratio of the time you spend jogging versus walking.