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Best foot forward: Choosing the right walking shoes

Select the right shoe for you
Select the right shoe for you
Photo: Richard Adams

To get the most out of your exercise, you'll want to walk in the best sneakers for you. Having the right footwear will prevent blisters and calluses, as well as more serious injuries. And if your shoes fit and feel comfortable, you will have the energy to walk on and on, creating the workout you love.

Walking requires different shoes than those intended for running or aerobics. Look for sneakers that fit the length and width of your feet. You should get the right support, flexibility and cushioning. Also take into account your routine--your typical distance, speed, style and surface, as well as your weight and stride.

Dick's Sporting Goods offers an online guide to selecting shoes for efficiency and comfort. Sneakers are typically made of leather and/or synthetic materials. Shoes that combine leather and the lightweight, breathable, synthetic mesh offer both durability and breathability. Typically, the combination shoes are more lightweight as well.

Walking shoes are constructed with a low-profile heel, since walkers need less cushioning than runners. A slight bevel on the outside of the heel helps to steady the foot and prepare for the roll-through of a natural step. This also encourages an efficient foot strike.

When walking, your feet flex more than when running, so you need shoes made for this. Flex grooves on the sole of the shoe let the foot bend as it should. Room in the toe box allows your toes to flex when you stride.

Before you set out to buy your new shoes, be certain to have your feet measured. Your foot size can change gradually over time. Stand up for the measurement to get the most accurate numbers.

Athletic footwear companies present you with a slew of choices. For example, New Balance's collection of walking shoes includes the 845 for men and women. This sneaker features special cushioning and construction to aid with motion control. Reebok's EasyTone has sole technology that claims you'll get up to 28 percent more toning as you walk-in your calves, hamstrings and glutes.

The Walking Company offers performance shoes designed to support your feet and absorb shock. This footwear selection is also intended to appreciably reduce musculoskeletal compression, which can help you walk farther.

Whichever sneakers you choose, be sure they are comfortable from the moment you put them on. Lace them up, and off you go!