I hope you are doing well! Here’s our most recent Q and A. Let us know what questions you have.
Q. What’s the best piece of home cardio equipment?
A. When you’re asking about the “best piece of home cardio equipment” I assume you mean what will help you burn the most calories and have the greatest potential positive impact on your health and fitness. If we’re talking about max calories and max health + fitness benefit the winner is a weight vest. No contest.
Let’s break it down:
Calories: because you can wear a weight vest for as long as you want it has the greatest potential to affect the calories your body burns during a day. Research on humans showed 90+% of people had no problem wearing it 8 hours a day.
The problem with things like high intensity interval training is that you can’t do very much of it. If you are killing yourself you can get 15-20 min above 85% of your max heart rate. It will take 40-60min to get this 15-20 min because of how much rest it requires to work that hard. It is also exhausting, meaning you feel like a truck hit you, and are likely to move less for the rest of the day because you are so tired. Additionally, you can only crush yourself like that 2-3 days per week. In other words, most people can only get 45-60 min per week of true high intensity work during the entire week.
You can convert most activities that aren’t seated into “cardio*.” You can wear your vest grocery shopping, or other errands. You can wear it during house work, laundry, yard work, etc. Most obviously, you can wear it while walking.
*I put “cardio” in quotes because it’s illogical to say that activities such as walking in a weight vest help your cardiovascular system, but not your musculoskeletal system; or that doing strength training will help your musculoskeletal system, but not your cardiovascular system. Your heart and lungs do extra work because your muscles ask them for more help – endurance exercise can help strength, and strength (if you’re pushing it) can have a majorly positive impact on your cardiovascular system.
One of the few problems with weight loss is that the less you weigh the fewer calories you burn doing anything. Each step consumes fewer calories the less you weigh. Metabolism is just the sum of the calories your body burns per day.
Calories burned during movement (NEAT) is one of the biggest portions of your metabolism, and the one that plummets with weight loss. A weight vest allows you to add the weight externally and keep your overall burn up as high as it was before you lost the weight.
As above, one of the few problems with weighing less is that there is less gravity acting on your body. This, unfortunately, includes your bones. Our bones grow denser (good) or softer (bad) in response to how much stress they get.
Deprive your skeleton of stress and it turns to mush over time. Give your skeleton the stress it requires to be healthy, and it will, at least, maintain itself with age if not get stronger. A weight vest is a great way to prevent and combat osteoporosis and osteopenia. The only side effects are sweating and having daily tasks feel like mini workouts.
Bone density is also one reason to not rely on a bicycle for most of your physical activity. Cycling doesn’t provide enough stress down through your bones to keep them healthy. This is not to say that biking is “bad,” just to say that it needs to be supplemented. And, in case you are wondering, wearing a weight vest on a bike won’t do much beyond make your butt sore.
Speaking of bones, it turns out that our skeletons actually have a major impact on our appetites. Loading our skeletons seems to have a powerful downward effect on our appetites. Meaning that weight vests also solve another common problem with weight loss – increased hunger. If you are interested in the research, check this out.
A vest is way smaller than a bike, elliptical, etc.
you can use your vest during all activities that aren’t seated, and you can even use it to enhance your strength training. It is an extremely safe way to add intensity to most exercises, and especially lower body exercises.
A nice, comfortable vest is $50-60. A top of the line, slim vest is $150-300. A nice spin bike can set you back $2,000. You want to get a vest that is about 10% of your body weight. If you are on the edge of 2 sizes, we recommend you get the heavier vest (usually a 2lb difference) as you will get stronger faster than you think.