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Selecting the Right Fitness Shoe

When selecting the right fitness shoe, you might be overwhelmed by all the choices. Do you need arch support? Shock resistance? Extra padding? Lightweight mesh? We’ve gathered together some tricks and tips for selecting the right fitness shoe for your exercise habits, lifestyle, and future goals. After all, sneakers are often the most important piece of equipment when it comes to exercising, whether you’re jogging, playing a sport, or simply going on a walk every day. They keep your feet supported, healthy, and keep them from feeling sore. Learn more about the right ways to buy your new favorite pair of fitness shoes!

Portion of a woman on the floor, holding the bottom of an athletic shoe being worn by another person.

1. Choose the right shoe for your workout

Will you be doing light jogging or running? Or will you be sticking to walking around the neighborhood? And if you’re going to be playing tennis or other sports, you’ll also want to look for a completely different shoe! Running shoes tend to work best for jogging, running, and walking. They’re built for heel-to-toe motion, and will last longer than simple walking shoes. If you engage in activities like aerobics or sports, go for cross trainers. They’re built for side-to-side movement (think: shuffling, sliding, or lunging across a court).

2. Know your feet

Just like jeans, shoes are made with different fits: some have lots of arch support, for example, while some have practically none. If you get the wrong fit for your feet, you may find yourself suffering from blisters, tendon pain, and more. Grab a brown piece of paper, wet your foot, and step on it normally (as if you’re simply taking a regular step forwards). The outline of your foot will tell you what kind of foot shape you have. Is all the weight on the top outer edge of your foot with a big crescent of your foot outline missing? You’ve got high arches and probably need cushioned shoes; look for soft and flexible midsoles, usually with a sole that has a cut-out shaped like a kidney bean at the arch.

Is all the weight on your top inner edge with the whole foot filled in? You’ve got flat feet, and you’ll want dense, firm cushioning by your arches to keep them from collapsing. Look for shoes that have a contrasting grey color by the arch, indicating a thick material that will really help support your feet.

If your footprint is curved along the inside, you have neutral feet. You’ll want to look for moderate stability sneakers, which will bend to the ball of your foot.

3. Re-measure your feet–and shop at the end of the day

Contrary to popular belief, our feet can grow even when we’re adults. Don’t rely on what you remember your shoe size being when you’re out selecting the right fitness shoe; re-size your feet to make sure! We also recommend shopping at the end of the day, when your feet are swollen. It will mimic the swelling of your feet when you’re exercising.

4. Use your thumb as a handy tool

When you’re trying to figure out how your shoes should fit on your feet, stick out your thumb! There should be about a thumb’s width of space between the end of your big toe and the end of the shoe. Make sure to walk around the store, or around your house if you’ve ordered them online. The heel shouldn’t slip at all–this will only cause blisters and calluses to form later on–and the upper part of the shoe should be secure, but not overly tight. If it doesn’t feel like you could walk a mile in the shoes without feeling pain, then they aren’t the right shoes for you!

5. Get new shoes when your old ones wear out

Your foot health should be a number one priority in your life; don’t hesitate in buying new shoes when your old ones start to wear out. When you start noticing deep-set wrinkles in the soles of your shoes (or, if you’re keeping track of miles, about every 400 miles), it’s time to get a new pair.

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