Walking is a normal and daily function for most individuals. It is used to get us from point A to point B. As consumerists, we generally wear shoes to match the clothing we are wearing but this is entirely different when we are walking to lose weight. In this specific instance, comfort and reliability are paramount with the appearance of the shoes taking a backseat to functionality.
Walking shoes are similar to a pair of the best running shoes in almost every aspect except one. The amount of padding involved with walking shoes does not make as much of an impact as it does with running shoes.
Why padding is not paramount
Walking and running share a similar motion of placing one foot in front of the other but the force of which the feet impact the ground varies greatly. The low impact nature of walking allows one to maintain a higher level of comfort longer with sub-standard padding. That is not to say that padding does not matter at all because it does, just not to the level of which it matters for running.
Elements to consider
With the padding of the shoe not being much of an issue, one still has to consider:
- Foot Anatomy
Everyone's feet are just as unique as they are and this needs to be addressed when deciding on a pair of walking shoes. Be sure to try on any pair of shoes one may be looking at before purchasing and make sure certain points of contact remain comfortable. The big toe, little toe, Achilles heal, and the arch of the foot should all fit naturally within the shoe. If anything feels out of place, try on another pair until it feels right.
Some shoes are made for the road or paved trails while others were created to handle more rugged turf with variances in arch support, ankle support, and sole support.
- Shoe weight
Those truly interesting in walking for exercise should go with a lighter shoe. Runners generally prefer a heavier shoe to increase weight resistance but that is not the goal with walking. Since it takes longer to burn calories with walking, a lighter shoe will be more comfortable with the added time it takes to result in a similar calorie burning workout.
As with all shoes, takes some time to break in a new pair of walking shoes. This can aid in any initial discomfort felt while wearing them. A good approach can be to wear them for a minor activity like going to the grocery store to loosen them up before taking them on a dedicated walking session.