Walking provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. Compared with running, walking is much easier on the joints and carries far less risk of injury. Even people who are recovering from a serious injury are encouraged to begin a regular walking regimen.
Most running shoes are acceptable for exercise walking, but there are also specialty walking shoes available for purchase. Ideally, walking shoes should be comfortable, lightweight, and well-cushioned.
What to look for in walking shoes
Walking shoes should always feel stable and comfortable. Here are a few things to consider when selecting walking shoes:
- If you have weak ankles, try to find a shoe that provides ankle support.
- Look for a shoe with breathable upper materials (this will help reduce the risk of fungal infection).
- Make sure the shoe is wide enough to fit the ball of your foot and long enough that you can wiggle your toes in the shoe.
- Walk around the store in the shoe; make sure the heel does not irritate your Achilles tendon or ankle.
- Walking shoes should feel snug; your feet should not slip out of the shoe when you walk.
Issues created by improper fit
Some walking injuries are unavoidable, like tripping over an object or slipping on a wet surface, but most exercise-related walking injuries can be avoided.
Walking injuries can be caused by overexercising and doing too much too fast. Improper footwear can also contribute to chronic walking injuries. Choosing good walking shoes can help you avoid many of the following injuries:
- Ankle sprains
- Athlete’s foot
- Blisters, calluses, and corns
- Bone spurs
- Bruised toenail
- Heel pain
- Runner’s knee
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures
If you have any existing foot injuries or abnormalities, make sure you talk to your doctor about proper footwear before you start a walking regimen.