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We still may not able able to run any marathons or explore a new city for miles on end, but a nice leisurely walk might help you achieve your fitness goals and do you some good while social distancing.
If you've made it your resolution to be more active in the new year, a daily stroll can be the perfect place to start. Plus, with so much time spent inside, it's an easy way to get some exercise in between working from home, playing games with your quarantine housemates and relaxing.
In order to make walking a regular part of your routine, you should have the right support for your feet. Shop TODAY spoke to experts about what to look for in the perfect walking shoes — here's what they said.
How to pick the best walking shoe
When you’re walking, the critical muscles and tendons around the ankle require the most support. The peroneal tendons (on the outside of the ankle) help stabilize the ankle and prevent the foot from "rolling in" on uneven surfaces, said Illinois Bone & Joint Institute surgeon Dr. Anand Vora.
“Women especially want to be sure to accommodate the forefoot (the toe area) and to stabilize the hindfoot and ankle with secure lacing,” Vora noted.
While walking and running shoes might appear to be virtually the same, they're different. "The actual walking shoe itself is slightly lighter and more flexible than the running shoe, which tends to have more weight and rigidity,” said Dr. Kevin Kinney, an Atlanta-based chiropractor.
Another major difference between walking and running shoes? “The sole of the shoe,” Kinney pointed out. While runners tend to strike the ground with their toes, walkers typically strike on the heel and might require additional arch support. For this reason, walkers should look for shoes with more cushion in the back and a drop to the toe box of the shoe.
So, how do you chose a walking shoe with enough support in all the right places? In general, the choice boils down to fit and comfort. “You do not want to choose a shoe that is too constricting or doesn’t allow your foot to breathe,” Kinney said. Mesh and canvas shoes seem to be the most popular choices for comfort, breathability and weight.
Bestselling women's walking shoes
These New Balance trainers will provide all-day comfort and stability. They are designed with a dual-density collar that uses both a soft foam against the foot for cushioning and a more dense foam for support.
Kinney's walking shoes recommendation, the Asics Women’s Gel-Tech Neo 4, has been discontinued, but the Gel-Contend 4 is a very similar style.
According to Kinney, a lightweight mesh upper allows flexibility and ventilation while adequately supporting the ankle, and the brand's gel technology in the sole adds comfort and stability.
Looking for a colorful walking shoe? Check out this lightweight pair from Ryka. With rubber traction, a breathable mesh upper, memory foam and an EVA outsole, these shoes will get through any long walking workout with ease.
More women's walking shoes to consider
Don't let the name fool you, these shoes are perfect for walking at any pace. The slip-on sneakers are the No. 1 bestseller in the "Women's Walking Shoe" category on Amazon. One Shop TODAY writer put them to the test and said that they were so comfortable that she sometimes forgets to take them off. She also added that she "can slip on these shoes and comfortably cover seven miles of ground — including several stretches of cobblestones."
Allbirds are known for its super comfortable shoes, and the Tree Runners are a great option for long walks or neighborhood strolls. The foam and wool insoles provide a bouncy cushion for each step. Plus the shoe is carbon neutral thanks to the brand's sustainable practices.
Experts at Vionic created Vio-Motion Support so each shoe provides the perfect amount of stability, arch support and cushioning. That means you can wear them all day long without any aches or pains. The brand's popular Walkers are sturdy yet fashionable, made with water-resistant leather and a moisture-wicking lining.
This is another shoe that will help stabilize and support your walking workouts. The Saucony Women's ProGrid Integrity ST 2 Sneakers feature a forefront stretch zone that adds comfort by providing more room for the toes.
Perforated leather makes these shoes both durable and breathable, and Saucony added rubber to portions of the sole that hit the ground most often.
For people who need a shoe with enough support to get through a long walk but look sleek enough to wear with dress slacks, this is it. While a more breathable, flexible shoe works better for everyday workouts, these are perfect if you walk a lot while commuting to and from work and want to look stylish on the run!
Brooks is known best for its running shoes, but the company also makes a durable walking shoe with a removable cushioned insert and a flexible shock-absorbing sole.
These Skechers will not only give you a bit more height but they're also incredibly supportive walking shoes. They offer a secure fit with the smooth premium leather upper with durable toe and heel overlays as well as extra reinforcement at the bumper.
If you're looking for a pair of lightweight walking shoes, these are the ones for you! The New Balance Fuel Core Nergize sneakers give you plenty of freedom and flexibility due to the mesh front of the shoe. Reviewers also rave about these shoes for their comfort and breathability.
For more health and fitness recommendations, check out:
- 11 fitness trackers that will help kickstart your health journey
- 13 smart scales that will help you stick to your health resolutions
- Stick to your New Year's resolutions with these 8 affordable products
This article was originally published on April 26, 2018.