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How to choose walking shoes, according to an expert — plus 11 pairs to shop

These comfortable styles provide all-day support.
Reebok / Allbirds / New Balance
/ Source: TODAY

The start of a new year means a fresh slate to create new goals. For many people, at least one of those goals revolves around fitness and exercise. According to Statista, 50 percent of people surveyed about their 2021 resolutions said they wanted to do more exercise or improve their fitness.

As we begin 2022, you might find yourself chasing a similar goal. An easy way to achieve that? Walking! Daily walks became popular during the height of quarantine as a way for people to get some fresh air while still social distancing, but it has even more benefits than that. Other benefits of walking include boosted immune function, ease of joint pain and a tamer sweet tooth (who knew!).

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. It's an easy way to get some exercise, especially if you're still working from home.

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.

Best walking shoes for women

New Balance 608v5 Trainers

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.

Ryka Women's Sky Walking Shoe

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.

On Running Cloud Shoe

Designed with runners in mind, you can be sure to find comfort in these shoes during your daily walks. They're made with breathable mesh that will help keep your feet from suffocating and other technologies for soft cushioning, a secure grip and ease of slipping them on and off.

Orthofeet Coral Stretch Knit Shoes

Every walk will be an easy one with these shoes that feature premium orthotic insoles, adjustable arch support and a cushioned sole. According to the brand, these shoes are created to enhance comfort and alleviate pain for people dealing with arthritis, back pain, knee pain and more.

Adidas Cloudfoam Pure 2.0

The Adidas Cloudfoam line is the perfect way to balance comfort and style. They're sleek enough to blend in with any wardrobe, whether you're pairing them with jeans to run errands or with activewear for a workout. As someone who's owned two pairs of these myself, I can attest to how easy it is for them to become an everyday favorite.

Slow Man Women's Walking Shoes

Don't let the name fool you — these shoes are perfect for walking at any pace. These highly-rated slip-on sneakers have over 57,000 verified five-star ratings 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 Women's Tree Runners

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.

Vionic Women's Walker

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.

Reebok Women’s Princess Sneaker

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 Women's Addiction Walker 2

Brooks is best known for its running shoes, but the company also makes a durable walking shoe with a removable cushioned insert and a flexible shock-absorbing sole.

New Balance Women's Fuel Core Nergize Walking Shoes

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.

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