If you’re after a simple way to stay in shape, it could be as easy as lacing up a comfortable pair of shoes and going for a walk.
Not only does walking get your heart rate up and burn calories, it’s low impact, easy to incorporate into your day and – most importantly – free.
In fact, a review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2014 found that, not only did regular walkers show improved blood pressure, lower resting heart rate, reduction of body fat and weight, and reduced cholesterol – they also reported improved mental health scores and better quality of life too.
Walking is also known for being gentler on the joints than running, though the repetitive nature of the movement can still cause issues.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF BUYING PROPER WALKING SHOES
Speaking to news.com.au, Principal Podiatrist at Melbourne’s Profeet Podiatry and Active Feet, Oliver Tate, says this problem is exacerbated by wearing incorrect footwear that cause extra stress to your feet, legs, ankles and other joints.
“The repetitive impact of walking places continual stress on the body. If your footwear is a little too supportive, not supportive enough or fits a little awkwardly, those stresses are amplified over and over again,” he says. “This leaves you at risk of overload injuries of the lower limb.”
In his professional experience, Mr Tate says too often people buy their shoes based on colour or aesthetics, rather than its function. Instead, choosing a well-fitted and appropriately supportive shoe could be the small investment that will save you from needing professional invention later on.
“For someone wanting to develop a walking routine and increase their walking, investing in appropriately fitted walking shoes is a great decision,” says Mr Tate. “By investing in footwear now I believe you can minimise the need to visit an allied health professional down the track. Not that that is very good for my business, but it’ll be better for your hip pocket … invest now to save later.”
BEST WALKING SHOES FOR WOMEN
To help you find a pair of walking shoes that work best for your needs, we’ve rounded up 11 of the top options for women below, based on real customer reviews and our own experience with the products including the bestselling ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 that are currently 40 per cent off.
SHOP BY CATEGORY
BEST WALKING AND RUNNING SHOES
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24, $144 (down from $240), THE ICONIC
This pair might be designed for long distance runners, but you can rest assured it’s a brilliant option for those who prefer walking, too. Featuring GEL™ technology to deliver ultimate cushioning and an OrthoLite X-55 sockliner for extra support, it has a breathable, comfortable and easy-on-the-eye design available in multiple colourways.
“These are my second pair of Gel-Nimbus 24s and I love the comfort and way they fit my foot. It’s like walking on clouds … highly recommend.,” wrote one five-star review on the ASICS website.
Hoka One One Women’s Clifton 8 Running Shoes, $169.99 (down from $239.99), The Athlete’s Foot
When it comes to comfortable shoe recommendations Hoka often gets put at the top of the list, and for good reason. These are the latest runner in Hoka’s award-winning Clifton collection and feature a lighter midsole and updated engineered mesh upper compared to previous versions.
Features include a gusseted tongue, extended pull tab and high-abrasion rubber for grip. They also carry the Australian Podiatry Association (APodA) Seal of Acceptance for being beneficial to foot health.
“First time making the switch away from another brand in about 10 years and I am not disappointed. Didn’t take anytime to break in. Love them!,” one five star review reads.
BEST CUSHIONED WALKING SHOES
Brooks Addiction Walker velcro 2 – Women’s, $249.95, THE ICONIC
As the name suggests these runners were designed for walking. Features include a cushioned collar, tongue and heel as well as a slip-resistant rubber sole. It also has a BioMoGo DNA cushioning in the midsole and two velcro tabs for ultimate comfort.
“These shoes may not be the most stylish but at 46 I don’t care,” one five star review on Brooks website reads.
“These are incredible walking shoes that are super supportive for long walks. I’m currently on my third pair of these.
“I take daily walks and often very long walks and no other shoe can compare and I’ve been looking.”
New Balance Fresh Foam 680v7, $150
While these runners are designed for running beginners they’re also New Balance’s most popular choice of shoe for walking on their website right now. Designed for comfort above all, the Fresh Foam 680v7 has a midsole that provides a plush underfoot and a rubber outsole for traction. The engineered double jacquard mesh is nonrestrictive on your toes, and the moulded footbed maximises comfort. They come in four chic colourways to suit your wardrobe.
“I wanted a good walking shoe that would be good for walking through Airports when I travel … when I put them on the first time, they were instantly comfortable!” one five star review reads.
“No pressure point sores or pain anywhere! I can wear these shoes all day and my feet never tire. I really love these shoes and they are very cute, have had several compliments on them!”
Skechers GOWalk Hyper Burst, $99.99 (down from $149.99), Skechers
The Skechers brand is known for its comfortable footwear, making it no surprise that its’ GOWalk sneakers come so highly rated. With a slip-on design, breathable knit mesh construction and cushioned heel, the machine washable shoes are perfect for everyday wear. You can shop them in three colourways of black/hot pink, taupe/coral and navy.
Skechers Bountiful Quick Path, $79 (down from $109.95), Myer
Blending lightweight flexibility with cushioning for all your walking and workout needs, the Bountiful Quick Path feature soft knit mesh and a memory foam insole for ultimate comfort.
One of many thrilled reviewers commented “OMG!!!! My daughter bought a pair I tried them on and IMMEDIATELY jumped online and bought a pair they are the most comfortable sneakers I have worn, I’m completely converted”.
Adidas Ultraboost 5 DNA Shoes, $280
These popular Adidas runners have a boost midsole for added comfort while walking as well as Adidas’ signature Primeknit upper. The lightweight runners also have a stretchweb outsole made from Continental Rubber for added tread and grip. One five-star review on Google reads, “I’ve been waiting to get my hands on these for a long time now and I have to say, the wait was well worth it. These are the most comfortable Adidas I’ve ever worn.”
BEST SUSTAINABLE WALKING SHOES
Allbirds Women’s Tree Dasher 2, $215
This shoe is carbon neutral so both you and your feet can feel good knowing you’re not harming the environment when you pop these on. Featuring a seamless one-piece upper for maximum comfort and a lightly padded heel collar to lock your ankle in place, these sneakers are super comfortable. It also has a flexible, cushioned foam sole for the ultimate support. ”These shoes might change your life,” starts one five-star review. They go on to say, “They are just so freaking comfortable. I never want to take them off, even when I’ve been wearing them for hours.”
BEST WHITE WALKING SHOES
Reebok Princess Womens Casual Shoes, $99.99, Rebel Sport
If you’re a fan of the all-white sneaker look, this walking shoe will slot into your repertoire perfectly. Boasting a synthetic leather upper for ultimate breathability, a high abrasion rubber outsole for extra grip, an EVA midsole for added cushioning, and a terry lining for softness, the Reebok Princess style is a triumph.
“Great walking and running shoes. Very light, cushioned and have not caused any blisters. They can be worn for sports and also casually with jeans etc,” one reviewer wrote.
BEST WALKING SANDALS
Propet Pedwalker Sandal Womens, $169.99, The Athlete’s Foot
Made for leisurely walking, these sandals are designed to provide a seamless and non-abrasive feel. Made from a combination of leather and neoprene it has two adjustable straps for a comfy fit. “My mother finds it hard to find shoes to fit but these ones were the first pair she had bought in years and she absolutely loves them,” said one five-star review on Google.
Teva Midform Universal, $109.95, THE ICONIC
Teva sandals have been around since the 80s, but they’re back in style right now and better than ever. Here’s what Best Of Reporter Dani has to say about hers: “Being the proud owner of a pair of the Midform Universals myself, I can confirm that they are the comfiest summer shoe you will ever wear – seriously. The moulded EVA midsole offers heel cupping and arch support that make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud, and the textured finish is like a mini massage. Don’t be intimidated by the 3.2cm flatform – it’s just extra cushioning for comfort, and they’re still ridiculously easy to walk around in all day long. I’ve worn mine on trips to the beach, the shops, or just walks around the neighbourhood, and have gotten dozens of compliments on the retro chunky style. If it’s not to your taste, Teva have plenty more designs and colours to buy – check them out here.”
Skechers GOWalk Smart Flirty Sandals, $49.99 (down from $99.99)
If you’re looking to rack up the steps on your next vacation, these sweet-yet-comfy sandals by Skechers are the perfect buy. The attractive pair are lightweight enough to throw in your carry on and feature mesh straps and a cushioned midsole that will keep you comfortable all day long. “The most comfiest and supportive sandals I have worn,” says one five-star review.
BEST WATER-REPELLENT WALKING SHOES
Allbirds Women’s Wool Runner Mizzles, $185
From sustainable New Zealander brand Allbirds come these lightweight, comfortable and water-repellent sneakers. Crafted from cozy Merino wool with a bio-based water repelling shield and no-slip natural rubber sole, these are a perfect pair for those who love to walk whether there’s rain, hail or shine. They come in a wide range of chic colours and are beloved by reviewers.
“I live in Tasmania and my feet are permanently cold in the winter months. These shoes are like wearing my woollen slippers except I can wear them when I am out and about too. Perfect for long walks and running errands. They look really smart and I have had lots of people comment on them,” wrote one happy customer.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A WALKING SHOE?
When it comes to shoe shopping, comfort and stability are the two key factors. Mr Tate says research shows choosing a pair of comfortable shoes can go a long way in reducing injury but what is comfortable is user dependent.
“The only way to find out is to try a few pairs on and have a walk around in them,” he instructs. “Some people like cushioning, to feel like they’re walking on clouds, others like a firmer more responsive shoe.”
Shoppers should ensure their foot remains stable too and watch to see if their foot moves inward (pronation) or outwards (supination).
“Stability is important as too much deviation inward or outwards can cause your ankle muscles to work harder to stabilise your foot,” he says. “If you haven’t walked for a while you’re going to want to minimise how hard your ankles have to work so you down overload them.”
HOW DO I FIND THE PERFECT FIT IN WALKING SHOES?
The key, he says, is whether you can wriggle your toes – a key sign that you’ve found a great fit.
“A good pair of walking shoes should fit comfortably with no hot spots or pressure areas, and an enjoyable amount of space to wriggle the toes,” he said. “At the back of the shoe, the heel counter should lock nicely around the heel so that there is no slipping.”
Looking for a new pair of walking shoes? Take a look at these super supportive and comfortable options that will keep your feet happy.
WHAT ARE THE WORST SHOES FOR YOUR FEET?
According to Steven Waterhouse, Performance Footwear Buyer at The ICONIC, the biggest faux pas we can make is underestimating the importance of the fit of our shoes.
“It’s always a good idea to go up by at least a half-size to allow room for potential swelling, which can naturally happen if you’ve spent a day on your feet,” Steven tells news.com.au. “When shopping for a walking shoe online, take advantage of the size guide and tools available to help make your pick. Here at The ICONIC, we offer a Fit Finder function, which through a short questionnaire based on existing shoes in your wardrobe, offers a personalised size recommendation to help take some of the guesswork out of shopping for your next pair of walking shoes.”
Find more great footwear recommendations with Best Of’s guide to the cosiest slippers and warmest boots for winter. Plus, don’t miss our roundup of the best white sneakers for your wardrobe.
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