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Purchasing Pointers for Walking Shoes

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Publication Number: IS1685
View as PDF: IS1685.pdf

How do you find a comfortable pair of shoes to walk in while you try to get more exercise?

Here are some pointers in finding a pair of shoes that won’t kill your feet:

  • Shop for shoes at the end of the day or after you have been walking for awhile, when your feet may be swollen. Be sure to wear the same type of socks you intend to wear while you are walking to try on the shoes. Try on both shoes, since one foot may be slightly larger than your other foot.
  • Look for a low supportive heel. A walker’s heel strikes the ground first and rolls heel to toe. Look for a flexible sole with more bend in the toe than a running shoe. You should be able to twist and bend the toe area easily.
  • There is nothing more uncomfortable than a heavy pair of leather shoes to walk miles in, not to mention knee pain. Look for a shoe that is lightweight and breathable.
  • A shoe needs to fit well and not give you blisters. Be sure your foot has enough room in the toe, allowing for a thumbnail’s width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. The shoe itself should be wide enough that your toes can move freely. The heel should not slip and move as you walk. No part of the shoe should pinch nor bind.
  • The best time to shop for a shoe is when you are not in a hurry. Take your time and walk around the store on a hard surface before purchasing the shoes.
  • Wear your shoes in the house for a couple of days to make a trial run before going outside. That way if the shoes don’t fit, you can return them.
  • To extend the life of your shoes, be sure to wear them only for your walk, and rotate your shoes to give them time to return to their original shape between walks. Replace your shoes after 300 to 600 miles of walking. Make sure the shoes have not stretched or become loose or the linings haven’t worn out at points of excess pressure. If this is the case, it is time for new shoes.
  • Inspect your feet for pressure and for redness after you wear your shoes.
  • It is best to wear new shoes no more than one hour the first day and increase the time each day by an hour.
  • If you have pain on the top of your feet, leave a space in the lacing to remove any pressure on top. Check the New Balance web site at for more lacing tips and a better shoe fit.


Information Sheet 1685 (POD-04-17)
Distributed by David Buys, PhD, MSPH, Extension State Health Specialist, Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion. Prepared by Dr. Jane M. Clary, former Associate Extension Professor, Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion.


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