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Categories > Exercise and Fitness > Exercising safely

Lace up!

What’s not to love about walking? It can help you control your weight, blood sugar and cholesterol, and it improves your heart function, which can lead to lower blood pressure.

But if you’re wearing the wrong footwear, you could find your walking program sidelined by blisters and calluses. That’s why choosing a great walking shoe is so vital. To get the best pair for your feet, take into account such factors as shoe features and your foot shape, and make sure you get a correct fit.

Consider the following questions and answers to get geared up properly.

What should you look for in a walking shoe?

For walkers, a lightweight shoe with extra shock absorption in the heel and ball of the foot can help keep pain away. You may also want to consider a shoe with a slightly rounded sole (a rocker bottom), which helps move weight from the heel to the toes smoothly.

A good walking shoe is also more rigid in the front to allow you to roll off your toes, instead of bending them. Your feet should feel stable in the shoes.

What kind of foot do you have?

Is your foot slender or on the wider side? Not all shoes are created equal: Some brands run narrow, while others can easily accommodate wider feet.

You also need to know what kind of arch you have. Your feet may have arches that are high, flat or neutral (neither high nor flat). Certain shoe features will work better for certain types of arches. For example, someone with low arches or flat feet, which don’t support the body adequately, may benefit from a shoe with motion control to stabilize the foot.

If you’re unsure of your foot type, bring an old pair with you when you go shopping. A shoe professional can usually help you decide what to buy based on the wear pattern of your old shoes.

Do you know how to get the best fit?

Here are some tips to choose the right shoe:

  • Talk with a podiatrist about proper footwear if you have special health concerns, such as bunions.
  • Go shopping at the end of the day; feet tend to swell and be at their biggest at day’s end. Wear the type of socks you plan on wearing with the shoes.
  • Have both feet measured and go with the size of the largest.
  • Try on at least four or five pairs before deciding.
  • Make sure the shoes are comfortable. Your foot shouldn’t slip in the heel and your toes should have plenty of wiggle room. Contrary to popular belief, shoes don’t need a break-in period.
  • Check out the list of footwear that promote foot health and have earned the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance. Find it at at Choose “Footwear, Insoles, Hosiery, Materials, and Equipment” from the “Products We Recognize” tab.