Here at Shop TODAY, we have a real passion for sneakers. After all, they're the thing that can make or break a workout, make standing for hours feel more bearable and provide the cushioning your feet need for a long day of walking.
That's why we've spent countless hours speaking to everyone from nurses to podiatrists about the pairs that they love. And we've even tried many of the popular options ourselves to see if they really were worth the purchase.
So to make it easier for you, we're compiling all of our findings in one list. From award-winners to sneakers that have a seal of approval from experts and editors, these are some of the best of the best. And there are options for everyone, so whether you want a new shoe that you can comfortably run in for miles or something that will carry you through a full day of walking, you're bound to find your perfect pick in this list.
Award-winning walking shoes
In need of a new walking shoe? Well, you're in luck because these ones from New Balance were named the best overall walking shoes during the 2023 Start TODAY x Shop TODAY Wellness Awards. Staffers who tried the shoes loved how comfortable and supportive they felt and how stylish they looked (partnerships editorial assistant Lauren Biggerstaff even noted that she wore them with jeans for a night out).
For anyone looking for a more affordable option, Reebok's Princess Sneakers were also a favorite of our reviewers. "These shoes are incredibly comfortable and supportive," says senior partnerships editor Francesca Cocchi Zabloudil. "They are also lightweight. I found myself reaching for them again and again during the testing period, even over some of my own favorite sneakers. They’re so comfortable that sometimes I forgot I was wearing shoes."
Currently the No. 1 bestselling women's walking shoe on Amazon, these slip-on sneakers are said to be lightweight, breathable and comfortable. They were also named the best commuting sneakers during the Start TODAY x Shop TODAY Wellness Awards, so they're perfect for quick walks to work, though one reviewer noted that she walked four miles in them one day "with zero back, leg or foot soreness."
If you're willing to splurge, these award-winning shoes from Lululemon seemingly check every box. "These shoes were extremely comfortable, designed to let your toes wiggle even if you tie them tightly," says Ashley Parrish, senior vice president of commerce at NBC News. "The cushy insoles help with impact and I liked the sleek design."
Sleek, comfortable and slip resistant — what more could you want from a walking shoe? The Brooks Addiction Walker, which won the award for "best support" features something called an "extended progressive diagonal rollbar" that the brand says helps you stay in your natural stride.
Podiatrist Dr. Priya Parthasarathy also previously told us that it's a good everyday walking shoe, as it "has lots of cushioning."
Award-winning running shoes
Made with speedroll technology, these award-winning sneakers are said to propel you forward, so it "feels as if the shoe is doing the work for you." (Less work when running? We're in!) The brand also says that the shoes have "just-right softness" and a "made-for-me" feel.
If you want to feel supported when you're running, these are the shoes for you. They were deemed to have the "best support" during the Start TODAY x Shop TODAY Wellness Awards.
"As somebody who doesn’t enjoy running, this pair of shoes made the experience a lot better and had me looking forward to my next workout," says editor Vivien Moon. "I definitely felt an improvement in my form and stride while wearing these."
These shoes really do live up to their name! Our testers who tried the sneakers described them as being "light," "airy" and "cloud-like." While the brand says the Cloud X 3 was born from its expertise in running, the shoes can really work for any activity.
The brand's sneakers are also loved by nurses. In the past, when we posted about nurse's favorite shoes, many people who are on their feet all day, including healthcare workers, chimed in to let us know that On Running was one of their favorite brands. "After 31 years of nursing, I will never wear any other," one person wrote.
It's hard to go anywhere these days without seeing a pair of Hokas. In the last few years, the brand has exploded in popularity among runners, walkers and more. And while these shoes are a splurge, for those who are looking for something with cushioning and responsiveness, it may be worth it.
I was sent a pair by the brand, and loved how light and propulsive they felt.
Named the best running shoe for wide feet, Brooks' Launch 8 sneakers are designed for neutral runners that want lightweight cushioning and a breathable design to wear for everything from short runs to races.
"They're very lightweight and supportive," Biggerstaff says. "I tend to have a heavy step, but these felt like they were helping with my running form, if only minor improvements." She adds that she felt more comfortable running in them than she does in her usual running shoes.
If you're just starting to get into running, you might not want to spend a ton on a shoe. This is a great introductory option that's designed to provide support and comfort, without breaking the bank. One person notes that "it’s a durable running shoe” and another one of our reviewers shares, “I love how slim and lightweight these are.”
The best sneakers, according to experts and podiatrists
Podiatrist Dr. Chanel Perkins previously shared that she recommends Adidas' sneakers to patients "every day,” as the brand offers foot-friendly technology at an affordable price point. She added that the brand's Cloudfoam Running Shoes are "lighter" and have "good cushioning," thanks to their memory foam sole.
You might think of New Balance as being the creator of the classic "dad shoe," but if you haven't heard, the chunky, oversized styles that the brand is known for are officially cool now. And these casual shoes came recommended to us by podiatrist Dr. Miguel Cunha.
And he's not the only fan. "The 997Hs are an amazing shoe for walking and look so cute with slouchy socks," says Shop TODAY deals editor Rebecca Brown. She adds that it's the only shoe she'll wear for her annual theme park trip, "because it does double duty (feels good and looks good)."
“I love the Supernova 2,” Perkins shared with us. It feature's Adidas' proprietary Boost technology, which she said is built to absorb impact, for lighter and more comfortable steps.
Asics is another top sneaker pick among experts. In fact, Cunha told us that it is one of the “most recommended brands of sneakers” in his practice. And this pick is particularly great for walkers. "[They] are designed with Guidesol technology and a rocker bottom sole that helps your roll through your gait. This shoe has offers superior durability and comfort with every step as you walk," he said.
Another favorite of Cunha's, this shoe features the brand's gel technology and comfortable Ortholite sockliner. "The forefoot of this sneaker is designed with a well-cushioned FF Blast Plus footbed and anatomical arch that is firmer and denser on the medial side of the shoe to support and hold the plantar fascia and prevent it from collapsing to minimize fatigue and pain associated with overpronation," he shared.
Said to be great for cross-training Brooks' Levitate 5 shoe has "some stability to it, but it’s more breathable, slightly more flexible and very lightweight," Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, told us.
The brand says that the shoes provide "maximum energy return," so your effort isn't going to waste.
The 574 sneakers are perhaps New Balance's most classic shoe, and they're also the ones that Cunha told us he recommends most often. "The shoe is highly durable, it’s highly flexible, it’s lightweight, extremely comfortable, [has a] superior arch, has soft shock-absorbing cushioning on the footbed to relieve pain and it has a cool vintage-y classic old school look but is still modern.”
For neutral runners (those that neither overpronate or supinate), Parthasarathy told us that Brooks' Ghost 14 is one of the most popular options on the market. And experts say that it's good for both running and walking.
"I’ve been wearing the Brooks Ghost for almost a decade now and run everything from 5ks to marathons in them,” says senior social media editor Kate McCarthy. “They’re the perfect combination of being supportive without feeling too heavy, and in all the years I’ve been running with them I’ve never had any blisters or foot pain. Whenever I hear someone is in the market for new sneakers they’re the number one brand I always recommend, they’ve treated me so well throughout the years!”
"These shoes have increased shock absorption, stability and feel lightweight," Cunha says. "These shoes have a FF Blast+ Eco midsole foam with increased midsole thickness and width for increased cushioning and [a] redesigned outsole that is lightweight and durable for increased shock absorption [and] stability."
Brooks released its first Adrenaline GTS 1 back in 1999, and the shoe helped establish the brand as a top choice for runners. The company has continued to develop and improve the shoe, and Parthasarathy called this version a "really good choice." She added that for those with flat feet, the shoe provides a lot of stability and cushioning.
You know something is good when the experts themselves use it. So when podiatrist Dr. Ashley Lee told us that she wears these sneakers herself, we knew they could be considered some of the best of the best. According to Brooks, the shoes feature super soft cushioning, responsive rebound and a secure fit to elevate the running experience.
The New Balance Made in the USA 990v5 shoes are another favorite of Cunha's. The sneakers first debuted in 1982 and appealed to both runners and on-trend tastemakers, the brand says. "These are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn in my life," one reviewer wrote.
Perkins told us that she commonly recommends Adidas' Ultraboost running shoes to patients, and it's not hard to see why. With a soft, stretchy upper and a bouncy Boost sole, they seem like an overall comfortable and supportive choice.
The best sneakers, according to Shop TODAY editors
These shoes are proof that you don't have to spend a ton of money to get a high-quality sneaker. One Shop TODAY writer who tried said they didn't require "any break-in time" and in the first few steps, she felt like she "was walking on a cloud."
"What sealed the deal for me was the comfort factor, which exceeded expectations considering my predicament at the time," she says. "The night before I tried these sneakers, I had stepped on glass and cut my left foot. A trip to the ER wasn’t necessary, but my foot was bandaged and sore. Since my typical flats were simply not an option, I slipped on the Avia Hightail Athletic Sneakers — and I felt zero pain. These shoes have so much cushion, I was able to forget about the injury and focus on my tasks at work."
"I usually do a mix of running and walking a couple of times a week, and these sneakers are perfect for both," says associate editor Shannon Garlin. "They’re really lightweight and my arches feel supported the entire time.”
SEO associate editor Kamari Stewart calls these shoes "so comfortable." "The first time I wore them was for an entire day (eight-plus hours) and I was comfortable enough to continue wearing them longer after I got home. 10/10.”
Editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger switched from her previous running shoes to this pair of Brooks' after hearing friends (who are avid marathoners) recommend them to her. "I’ve run miles upon miles in them, wearing them down until I was forced to get a new pair," she says. "They’re lightweight, don’t cause blisters and come in fun designs and colors that elevate any workout outfit."
Social editorial assistant Annie Shigo says that she wears these sneakers "everywhere," from the gym to walking around New York City. Said to be inspired by "outdoor exploration," the sneakers feature a gel midsole in the forefront and heel to help with shock absorption, the brand says.
Hoeger says that she "had heard great things about Hokas from co-workers, friends and family members who have tried them and loved them." And after trying this pair, she understood the hype. “When trying them on for the first time, I was immediately impressed with the cushiony sole and how supportive, yet lightweight they are. I opted for a pair with a little less of a platform and have loved running in them since.”
Lululemon stepped into the footwear space last year and has been continuously impressing our staffers with its versatile and comfortable sneakers ever since. Writer Bridget Shirvell was looking for a good everyday shoe when she was sent these ones from the brand.
"Even though most of the running I do these days is after my kid and not on the treadmill, the pressure-mapped outsole offers enough support to keep me on my feet for miles. Or, at least while waiting on the long berry and bakery lines at my local farmer’s market," she says.
Years ago, Hoka sent me its Kawana sneakers to try and they served as my first introduction to the brand. As soon as I slipped them on, I understood why so many people had raved about them. Even with their oversized design, they felt surprisingly lightweight. And while I love them for running, I've found that they work for nearly any activity, from HIIT workouts to long walks.
A previous model of Hoka's Clifton sneakers, the Clifton 7 was recommended to us by Cunha as a good option for runners who are looking for a softer and lighter shoe. And this latest iteration, the Clifton 9, is said to be lighter and more cushioned than ever before.
Commerce photo editor Vivian Le has one of the previous models of the shoes, and loves them so much, she bought multiple pairs. “They feel like clouds on my feet," she says. "I have a pair for everyday walking and a pair for running/training!”
I'm currently training to run the New York City marathon with New Balance and the brand sent me some of its shoes to try on my runs. These trainers have been my go-tos for longer distances. Each step feels bouncy and propulsive thanks to their Energy Arc, which features a carbon plate sandwiched between FuelCell cushioning. They're also super breathable, which has been great for running in the heat. Plus, even after logging more than 150 miles in them in the span of a few months, I still feel like they're in pretty good shape.
Your shoes should work for you, not against you. And Hoka's Rocket X 2 sneakers are built to do just that. They feature a propulsive carbon fiber plate, sandwiched between ultra-responsive, high-performance foam to propel you forward and cushion your landings, the brand says.
“This was the first time I ever put on sneakers and understood what people meant when they said they felt like they were walking on clouds,” McCarthy says. “The Hokas are super bouncy and soft, but after years of running in shoes that have less bounce, it was a tough adjustment for me. The height of the foam on the sneaker made me feel like I was wearing platforms, and I was a bit weary of taking turns on runs too hard because I felt like I was going to twist an ankle.”