Walking is one of the best and most accessible ways to boost physical activity. It can help reduce blood pressure, build some lower body strength, and have benefits for your bones and brain.
And although it is relatively low-risk, there are still some. Even if you walk as little as three times per week for 30 minutes, investing in a good pair of walking shoes can increase comfort and lower the risk for injury.
When choosing a walking shoe, find one that bends around the ball of the foot, not the arch. The heel should be rounded so each step can roll forwards. Lastly, the upper – the part that holds the foot – should be flexible and forgiving.
Walking shoes are different than running shows. Walking shoes do not have as much cushioning, and the thinner sole allows the foot to roll naturally from heel to toe. The bottoms are also more flexible to suit the natural motion of walking.
The best way to buy shoes is to go to a store with a knowledgeable staff and wide selection. A specialty store is likely your best option. They can take a look at your foot – to see if you have high arches, flat feet – to make educated suggestions.
If you have high arches, for example, a very thin and flexible shoe might not be the best choice. A shoe with a little extra support and cushioning would be better.
The right shoe will immediately feel comfortable and will not need a “breaking in” period. You should have at least a quarter inch of space between the end of your toes and the tip of the shoe, which is enough for a little wiggle room. The heel should not move, and the ball of your foot should fit easily and snugly at the widest part.
Your shoes should last 300 to 500 miles, which would be about three to six months for most people.