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These shoes were made for walking! How to find the right pair for your feet, according to experts

These comfortable styles are designed to provide all-day support.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Daily walks have so many long-term benefits, including boosted immune function, ease of joint pain and a tamer sweet tooth — who knew! If you're hoping to make walking a regular part of your routine, you should have the right support for your feet. That's why Shop TODAY spoke with experts about what to look for in the best walking shoes.

Plus, we rounded up expert favorites and award-winning picks from our Start TODAY x Shop TODAY Wellness Awards to help you find the right pair.

How to choose | Expert-approved walking shoes | Editor-approved walking shoes | Award-winning walking shoes | Top-rated walking shoes | Meet our experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Best walking shoes for women

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, says 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 notes.

So, how do you choose 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,” says Dr. Kevin Kinney, an Atlanta-based chiropractor. Mesh and canvas shoes seem to be the most popular choices for comfort, breathability and weight.

Here are some other factors to consider when shopping:

Arch Support

In order to provide arches with necessary reinforcement, proper arch support is essential for those with flat feet in order to help reduce pain and suffering, foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Miguel Cunha says.

However, looking for shoes that fit your unique foot form and requirements with integrated arch support is the key to avoiding arch pain. Our experts say shoes with arch support tend to lessen the pressure on the ligaments and tendons in the foot and aids in the equal distribution of weight.

Sneaker width

Your foot should naturally splay out even when you're wearing shoes. If you have flat feet, having a shoe with more space in the toe box and midfoot area is best.

"This can lessen pain, blisters and the emergence of other foot problems. Most of the problems that occur with our feet — particularly for women, and often for runners — are because our shoes don’t have a wide enough forefoot," Cunha says.

Double board-certified podiatrist Dr. Chanel Perkins suggests, "Definitely try on the shoe, as it should feel comfortable right away." Perkin continues, "The shoe should also feel roomy enough to allow wiggle room for your toes, but never too loose."

To see if your shoe is wide enough, Cunha suggests tracing your foot onto a piece of paper at the end of the day when your feet are most swollen and place the shoe over the tracing of the foot. If the tracing of the foot is external to the edges of the shoe, then you know that your shoes are too narrow.

Cushioning

Our experts say cushioning is necessary as it reduces the impact when you walk. Having extra cushioning in the heel and midsole sections can help provide support to the lower legs and feet.

"The shoe should feel comfortable from the moment you put it on, with no areas of pressure or discomfort," podiatrist Dr. Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo says.

Maryland-based podiatrist Dr. Priya Parthasarathy says the ideal shoe also has a removable, supportive insole.

Durability

Your sole strength can make or break a walking shoe (literally). In order to tell if the shoe is rigid enough, Cunha suggests trying to bend the shoe in half.

"You shouldn’t be able to. The shank is the actual structure of the shoe and should be rigid to hold up and support the arch," he says.

The best walking shoes for women, according to experts

Saucony Women’s Cohesion 13 Running Shoe

What we like
  • Affordable, quality shoes
  • Supports good posture
Something to note
  • Runs narrow

Available sizes: 5-12 (with wide widths available) | Available designs: 14

Need a new pair of walking shoes but don't have a lot to spend? Try Saucony's Cohesion 13 shoes.

"These walking shoes are spacious, comfortable, they provide excellent ankle and arch support, and best of all they only cost under $50," Dr. Cunha says.

Asics Gel-Kayano 28

What we like
  • Great for high arches
Something to note
  • Runs narrow

Available sizes: 5-12 (with narrow and wide widths available) | Available designs: 17

Dr. Parthasarathy says these shoes provide stability and comfort for people who have issues with their arches. These shoes provide a good foundation for all-day wear.

Altra Women’s Escalante 3

What we like
  • Comfortable for bunions
Something to note
  • Short shoelaces

Available sizes: 5.5-12 | Available designs: 8

Parthasarathy recommends this pair of Altra sneakers for people with wide feet because they have a naturally wide toe box and a supportive structure that give your toes room to spread out. The upper fabric is light and breathable for intense walks or running errands.

Brooks Addiction Walker 2 Walking Shoe

What we like
  • Reduces plantar fasciitis
Something to note
  • Feels snug for some people

Available sizes: 5-12 (with narrow, wide and extra-wide widths available) | Available designs: 2

Dr. Perkins highlights these Brooks as her overall best shoes for walking.

Not only are they created to support your feet all day long, but they’re also versatile and stylish (thanks to the leather material). The outsole provides grip and traction to help avoid falls, while the inside cushioning reduces impact on your joints.

Hoka Clifton 9 Women's Sneakers

What we like
  • Flexible soles
Something to note
  • May run a bit large

Available sizes: 5-12 (with regular and wide widths available) | Available designs: 12

If you have bunions or wide feet, Hoka has got you covered. Dr. Cunha says these shoes have a wide and spacious toe-box to accommodate a wide foot. 

While they run wide, you can also order them in a wide width as well for some extra room around your toes. The lightweight cushioning in the midsole also provides all day comfort.

The best walking shoes for women, according to editors

K-Swiss Express Light Pickleball

What we like
  • Comfortable fit
  • Durable build
Something to note
  • Unique style

Available sizes: 5-12 | Available designs: 4

While these are advertised as pickleball shoes, editor Vivien Moon says she uses them outside the court for longer walks.

"To me, if a shoe is good for a cardio exercise, it should be good for all forms of cardio and these do the trick," Moon says. "They are comfortable for long walks and have never given me a blister or needed to be broken in."

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v13

What we like
  • Soles have top-notch traction
Something to note
  • Less breathable

Available sizes: 5-13 (with narrow, standard, wide and extra-wide widths available) | Available designs: 4

Associate editor Emma Stessman raves about New Balance's Fresh Foam X shoes. She even used these shoes to train for the New York City marathon.

"They’re also the shoes that I’ve been reaching for when I have to be standing or walking a lot in the days following long runs, to help my tired feet and legs recover," Stessman says. "As I’m walking around, I feel less impact with each step, thanks to the ultra-soft cushioning."

Start TODAY x Shop TODAY Wellness Awards 2023: Best Walking Shoes

Reebok Princess Sneaker

What we like
  • Very lightweight
  • Durable design
  • Provides cushion
Something to note
  • Can feel snug

Available sizes: 5-12 (with wide widths available) | Available designs: 30 | Award: Best Budget

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 go!

"I love the style and shape of the overall sneaker," commerce coordinator Alexa Arent says, adding that they may need to be broken in a bit for a looser fit. "They were easy to dress up/down and were comfortable throughout the day."

Associate editor Lauren Witonsky adds that these shoes are comfortable right out of the box. “I’ve never gotten a blister or sore feet, even when doing miles of walking around Spain in them,” she says. “Plus, the beauty of white sneakers is that you can easily dress them up or down.”

Skechers Go Walk Joy Sneaker

What we like
  • Easy to slide on and off
  • "Simple," yet versatile look
  • Lightweight design
Something to note
  • Can run large

Available sizes: 5-13 (with narrow and wide widths available) | Available designs: 28 | Award: Best for Commuting

Shoppers have raved about how comfortable and lightweight these shoes from Skechers are. Commerce designer Olivia Ott wore them for errand runs, to work and around the house and was pleased with how they felt on her feet.

"The support on the soles feels strong and comfortable, and the material on top is nice and breathable," she says.

New Balance 608 V5 Cross Trainer

What we like
  • Supportive fit
  • "Excellent for walking"
Something to note
  • Can feel tight around toes

Available sizes: 5-12 (with narrow and wide widths available) | Available designs: 3 | Award: Best Overall

These bestselling New Balance trainers promise to 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, the brand says.

“It’s rare for me to find a sneaker that I don’t have to break in, but these kicks delivered comfortable, supportive strides almost immediately,” senior SEO editor Jess Bender says. “While I can rave about their arch support for ages, the wider toe box and deep heel cup minimizes any discomfort I might feel after hours on my feet.”

Brooks Addiction Walker 2

What we like
  • Well made
  • "Very comfortable"
Something to note
  • Some noted slippery outsoles

Available sizes: 5-12 (with narrow, medium, wide and extra-wide widths available) | Available designs: 2 | Award: Best Support

On a trek along the West Side Highway from Chelsea all the way to Seaport, photo editor Vivian Le says these shoes felt “super well built and sturdy.”

According to the brand, they’re designed with soft cushioning, a slip-resistant outsole and max support for road running.

Lululemon Chargefeel 2 Low Women’s Workout Shoe

What we like
  • Supportive fit
  • Lightweight design
Something to note
  • May run large

Available sizes: 5-12 | Available designs: 7 | Award: Best Splurge

Designed for running and training, you'd expect a cushioned feel from these sneakers — and that's exactly what TODAY reviewers got.

"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."

Rothy's The Point

What we like
  • "Soft" and "flexible" fit
  • Many color options
Something to note
  • Not much cushion

Available sizes: 5-13 | Available designs: 13 | Award: Best for Work

Need shoes that you can wear to work and then for a walk on your lunch break? These stylish flats earned praise from reviewers who appreciated that they are easy to clean and commuter-friendly.

"They are the perfect office shoe, in my opinion and comfortable enough for my walking-heavy commute, too," senior partnerships editor Francesca Cocchi Zabloudil said. "They also wash well which is great especially for the lighter colors that can get dirty somewhat easily."

Meet our experts

  • Dr. Miguel Cunha is a foot and ankle surgeon based in New York City. Dr. Cunha has experience in a wide array of foot and ankle conditions, including reconstructive surgery.
  • Dr. Kevin Kinney is an Atlanta-based chiropractor. He works with patients to reduce chronic pain and neurological conditions while decreasing their dependency on medications and other drugs.
  • Dr. Priya Parthasarathy is a Maryland based podiatrist. She is board-certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.
  • Dr. Chanel Perkins is a double board-certified podiatrist based in Galveston, Texas. Dr. Perkins specializes in diabetic foot care, ingrown toenails, fungal toenails and more.
  • Dr. Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo is a New Jersey based podiatrist. She specializes in diabetic foot care and surgery at Millburn Podiatry Group. Dr. Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo is also a medical consultant at Aetrex.
  • Dr. Anand Vora is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute. He specializes foot and ankle conditions, including arthritis, reconstructive procedures and more.