If you’ve decided to get in shape and improve your health, look to your own two feet. A daily 30-minute walk helps lower your risk of heart disease, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer, and improves your mood and mental functioning, reports the American Heart Association. You don’t need special training, and you can walk almost anywhere. All you need to join the estimated six out of 10 Americans walking for good health is a pair of comfortable walking shoes.
It Starts With Fit
The perfect walking shoe hugs your foot comfortably without any rubbing, slipping or squeezing. Start with a pair in your usual shoe size, then adjust up or down as needed, since shoe size is not standardized. Your toes need enough room to wiggle freely without sliding inside the shoe, so look for a rounded, roomy toe box, and don’t be afraid to ask for a wide size shoe if necessary. If the shoe rubs against your heel, slips up and down or chafes the sides of your foot, try a different size or style.
Check Your Gait
Properly aligned feet absorb shock, maintain balance and propel you forward. Comfortable walking shoes assist your feet in these tasks, as well as compensate for variations in gait. Overpronation, the rolling inward of the foot, is a common gait imbalance usually accompanied by flat feet. You know you’re an overpronater if your shoes wear unevenly along the inner edge, says SportsInjuryClinic.net. Another clue is a footprint in sand or on wet surfaces that shows little arch definition. Look for walking shoes labeled as motion-control, stabilizing or with extra support through the midsole to help balance your stride.
When shopping for your walking shoes, bring along the socks you plan on wearing during exercise. Shop toward the end of the day, when your feet are naturally slightly swollen. Always try on both shoes in a pair since it is common for one foot to be larger than the other. If that’s the case with your feet, choose the size that best fits the larger foot. Lace up both shoes completely and take a little stroll around the shoe store. Bounce up and down, wiggle your feet from side to side and lift your heels up and down to check for any slipping, rubbing or tightness.
Stay in Style
The most important factors in a good walking shoe are fit, gait balance and comfort. But consider the looks of your walking shoes as well. Fashionably styled shoes are a pleasure to slip on when heading out for your daily walk and then keep right on going through your busy day. Companies such as Skechers offer a wide selection of walking shoes in black, bright and neutrals other than white, making it easy to assemble a wardrobe of attractive, supportive walking shoes. You might find that your walking shoes become the most reached-for shoes in your closet.