Choosing the Right Shoe for Your Workout

Jun 28, 2021

When it’s time for a workout, will just any shoe do? Before you lace up for your next walk or exercise class, check your shoes for wear, support, and special features that can take your workout to the next level.

If You’re a Walker...

Pay attention to your heel strike when you’re out walking. Do you notice that your heel strikes the pavement heavier than when you’re strolling or even jogging?  Walking shoes have a rounded and stiffer heel than running shoes to cushion that impact. If you’re shopping for a new pair, twist the shoe in your hands to test for flexibility. The toe box should be able to bend and twist easily and allow you to wiggle your toes. And if you’re in a warm climate, opt for a breathable mesh in the toe box as well!

If the shoe fits, workout in it!

If You’re a Group Fitness Regular…

Look for stability and traction when you’re planning on indoor group fitness. You want a shoe that can take you from burpees and jump squats to the elliptical or bike, so moderate cushioning with a wide, stable base is best. When you’re shopping, ask for training shoes. Try them on and do some lunges to test your balance and stability. Training shoes may also feature upgraded ankle and arch support to protect your joints during lateral movement, and should be lightweight and breathable. 

If You’re a Runner…

It doesn’t matter if you’re training for your first 5k or your next marathon — running shoes need to fit properly. Running shoes are lightweight, flexible, and specific to the shape of your foot and your gait style. For the best fit, head to your local running store for a free gait analysis and fitting. If you’re ordering online or don’t have a specialty store nearby, check out this great online resource for choosing the best running shoe for you.

If You’re a Hiker…

Those nubby knobs and treads on the bottom of trail shoes and hiking boots are there for a reason: gripping and sticking to rocks and roots helps keep you upright and stable when you’re hitting the trails. Trail shoes are also water-resistant and breathable so you can explore without being weighed down by wet socks, and they have a bigger toe box to help avoid blisters. Look for plenty of ankle support and take a walk around the store to pay attention to sock slippage and comfort. If your goal is to hike regularly, also spring for the moisture-wicking socks!

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Once you’ve found the right shoes, pay attention to wear and tear so you can replace them before they are completely worn out. Looks can be deceiving; shoes can lose their support or cushion long before they look like they need to be replaced. 

Your first signal of worn-out shoes will be aches or pains in your feet, shins, knees, or back. Most experts suggest replacing running shoes every 300 to 500 miles or every six months for non-distance activities. Replace your shoes every six months if you work out most days or every year if you exercise a couple of times per week. Your shoes will last longer if you reserve them for exercise and not for errands or going to work. Your shoes need rest, too!

The most important part of exercise is having fun and enjoying the energy and vitality that comes from an active lifestyle. The right shoes can ensure that your workouts also keep your feet and joints safe and strong. If the shoe fits, exercise in it!


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Heather Fuselier, CHWC, CFP, TTS

Health Advisor | Email Heather

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