In a society with access to countless scientific studies on health, it is difficult to deny the benefits of exercise. But for most people, finding time to include exercise in their daily routine is more difficult than it sounds. We would agree with the apostle Paul in Romans 7: 15 & 18, “…for what I would, that do I not; …for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not”! However, it is possible to increase the exercise potential of standard chores. I have found that using leg and wrist weights while vacuuming, cleaning the shower, or putting away the dishes will increase muscle tone and energy expenditure. My goal in this article is to demonstrate how to make homemade wrist or leg weights that are affordable and mimic the look of purchased weights.
My first need in making a weight was a flexible, waterproof receptacle to hold whatever substance I chose to use as my weight. For this, I turned to an old bicycle inner tube that had sprung a leak. In addition to the qualities that I was looking for, it also cut easily and was simple to work with. Now I needed something dense that would also be small enough to go in the tube, but flexible enough to go around an arm or leg. There were a number of options. The most common Internet suggestions were dried beans or rice, but since it was free, I chose to work with the small gravel and sand that rainwater washes along the sides of paved roads, especially where the pavement meets a driveway. I scooped up the smallest of the gravel I could find and weighed it in a small kitchen scale. I wanted to make a set of one-pound weights, so I measured out a pound each into two separate bowls and set about preparing the tubes.
The plan I had in mind called for two weighted tubes for each wrist/leg weight that I would make. The first step here was to determine how long to cut the lengths of these tubes. Obviously, this is going to differ from person to person. I decided to make some wrist weights for my daughter, who has fairly slender wrists (about six inches around), so I cut the tubes into eleven-inch-pieces. This was a guess on my part, and I could have used an additional half-inch for comfort, but a fairly safe plan is to double the wrist or leg measurement and cut the tubes to that length. The tubes can always be trimmed down later if they prove to be too big. Once I had the tubes cut to the length I wanted, I laid the tube on my work surface with the longer “outside” section of the tube to the back the the shorter “inside” section face up. I folded up about a quarter inch on one end of each tube and taped the folded section in place with electrical tape. I completely sealed these ends up with the tape so that the sand I was using would not be able to leak out from the corners. Then I filled the tubes up with my gravel/sand mixture, making sure to keep the two tubes that I had divided the pound of material into did not get mixed up with the tubes for the other weight. By folding the remaining end of the tube and holding it in place, it is possible at this point to check and see if the tube is the desired length or if it needs to be trimmed down further. Once I was happy with the fit, I folded and taped the open ends of the remaining tubes, making sure to completely seal them with tape.
I next turned my attention to the covering on the outside of the weight that would disguise the tubes and allow them to be worn. For this, I looked for an old T-shirt that was in an acceptable color for standard exercise equipment. I found a blue one that had enough usable fabric left in it to cut two rectangles large enough to enclose two tubes each. I made sure that I cut these rectangles along the grain line of the T-shirt fabric (along its length), instead of cutting them from the shirt sideways or on an angle. This was to prevent the fabric of the shirt from stretching so much. After cutting the fabric, I folded each one in half lengthwise and used white-headed pins to mark the center line. Then I wrapped the fabric around the tubes, keeping the white pins in between them. Then I used gold-headed pins to mark the center line of where the tubes would more or less be in the end. (See the photo for clarity.)
Now it was time to sew on a Velcro fastener. I cut two sections of the loop side of sew-in Velcro, the same length as the rectangle. I placed them so that the center lines of the Velcro strips were just slightly to the inside of the lines marked by the gold-headed pins and parallel to the white center line. Then sewed them in place. Next, I took equal measurements of the hook side of the Velcro and placing the end face-up on top of the loop sections, I sewed them down about an inch from the edge of the fabric. (Again, please see the photo for clarification. The gold pins are indicating my seam lines.)
I needed a ring of some sort for the Velcro to pass through so that the wearer could easily tighten and loosen the weight. For this, I chose to use the pull tabs that come on the tops of some soup or pet food cans. I used an additional two-inch piece of the loop side of the Velcro as a means of fastening each one to the opposite end of the covers from the hook strips, once again sewing them in place about an inch from the edge. The gold pin in the photo is placed on my seam line.
Now that the Velcro was in place, I place the tubes on top of the Velcro strips, folded the fabric back up over them, and pinned the fabric snugly across the top. Removing the tubes, I stitched this seam in place, trimmed away the excess fabric, and turned the work right-side-out. Laying the piece face upon the table, I centered the white pins and stitched a seam straight down middle of the work between the two Velcro strips. Then I folded a piece of double-fold bias tape over the end of the work and stitched through all the layers to close off the end of the casing. Now I could insert two tubes into each casing. This took a bit of patience, because the rubber of the tube did not want to easily slide along the fabric. However, once I had both tubes in place, I used another piece of bias tape to close the final opening and my weights were completed!
I could not work on a project that dealt with exercise without thinking of I Timothy 4:7 & 8 where Paul encourages Timothy “…exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Of course, Paul is not saying that we should not exercise the body, only that in light of eternity, it can only profit us for a short time. In contrast, exercising ourselves in following after the things of God can benefit us in this life and in the next. As you are using your new weights while doing routine chores, I encourage you to further maximize your time by memorizing Scripture or by listening to Christ-honoring music or a sermon that will challenge you to godliness and keep your spirit exercised in Him!