Best Walking Shoes: A Personal Trainer’s Guide

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // March 26, 2024

How do you choose the best walking shoes with so many available options? Take it from a personal trainer, I’ve walked countless miles in my shoes and I’m breaking down the most important features to shop for!

I love shoes. But unlike most women, instead of a high heel collection, I collect athletic shoes. And as a fitness expert who understands the amazing benefits of walking and logs tons of miles, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of wearing proper walking shoes for your health.

Whether you’re strolling through the park, walking with a weighted vest, tackling urban streets, or going long distances, the best walking shoes play a crucial role in supporting joint health and your overall well-being. That’s right, about a quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet, along with many joints, tendons, and ligaments!

I’ve had to pay more attention to the support I’m giving my feet because it can truly affect back pain, hip pain, knee pain and more. (Getting older is so much fun isn’t it?)

A good walking shoe can make all the difference when it comes to comfort and pain management. Which is why I wanted to share the top features to look for when shopping for your new favorite pair of walking shoes.


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    Important Features in a Good Walking Shoe:

    Here’s why investing in a quality pair of walking shoes is essential, along with key features to consider.

    Impact Absorption

    Walking generates repetitive impact on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Quality walking shoes feature cushioning systems, such as EVA foam or gel inserts, to absorb shock and reduce stress on your joints. Look for ample padding in the midsole and heel areas to provide excellent shock absorption.

    Keep this list of my favorite leg stretches handy to use if your muscles start to feel tight!

    Supportive Structure

    Proper arch support is vital for maintaining the natural alignment of your feet and preventing overpronation or supination. Choose a good pair of walking shoes with arch support tailored to your foot type, whether you have high arches, flat feet, or neutral arches.

    A supportive midsole and heel cup will stabilize your foot and enhance overall comfort.


    Walking for extended periods can lead to sweaty feet and discomfort if your shoes lack adequate ventilation. Opt for walking shoes made from breathable materials like mesh or synthetic uppers to promote airflow and keep your feet cool and dry.

    A breathable upper helps prevent blisters and fungal infections while maintaining comfort on long walks.

    Lightweight Construction

    Heavy, bulky shoes can weigh you down and tire out your legs faster. Look for lightweight shoes that won’t impede your natural stride and allow for effortless movement.

    A lighter shoe reduces fatigue and enhances agility, making it easier to maintain proper form and technique during extended walks.

    Flexible Sole

    Your walking shoes should provide flexibility in the forefoot to facilitate a smooth heel-to-toe transition with each step. A flexible sole allows your foot to bend naturally, promoting a more efficient gait and reducing strain on your muscles and tendons.

    Also consider the toe box. I like a wide toe box for comfort but you need to access your own foot and what is the best fit for you. 

    Durable Outsole

    The outsole of your walking shoes should offer reliable traction to grip various surfaces and prevent slips or falls. Choose shoes with a durable rubber outsole featuring multidirectional treads or patterns for enhanced grip on both wet and dry terrain.

    A durable outsole ensures long-lasting performance and stability, even on rugged trails or uneven surfaces.

    Proper Fit

    Above all, ensure your walking shoes fit comfortably and securely to prevent blisters, hot spots, and other foot problems. Visit a reputable shoe store to have your feet professionally measured and fitted for the right size and width.

    Or order two sizes online and keep the one that fits best. Make sure to try on with the proper socks.

    Running Shoes for Walking?

    Yes, running and walking shoes use similar motions and you can wear a running shoe for walking. Running shoes today tend to be lighter weight but with today’s technology they offer lots of support.

    Even though running (high-impact) and walking (low-impact) are different kinds of exercise, the features I listed above are important for both!

    My Favorite Walking Shoes Right Now

    I’ve been wearing New Balance brand for walking workouts for a while. The fit is great for my wider feet and the cushioning is exactly what I need.

    I’ve been wearing the “fresh foam” technology on and off since it came out back in 2014, and it lasts. I have found other shoes to break down faster, but New Balance with fresh foam last for months, and actually years depending on how much you walk. (It is recommended to upgrade your walking shoes every 300-500 miles.)

    I also love the arch support and the styles and colors. When it comes to New Balance, the quality speaks for itself. 

    Here are the two walking shoes I’m rotating right now:

    New Balance 1080 V13

    I’m loving this New Balance 1080 V13 in the Seasalt/Purple Fade/Quarry Blue color.

    New Balance 880 V14

    I’m also loving these New Balance 880 V14 in the Grey Matter/Taro/Bleached Lime Glo/Gulf Red color!

    *I’ve partnered with Schuler Shoes, a local shoe store with 10 locations in the greater Twin Cities area. They have a variety of brands and a vast knowledge of how to fit your feet properly if you shop in store. You can also have a robust online store. Here are some of my favorite athletic shoes and recovery shoes to check out. 

    By prioritizing these features in your walking shoe selection, you’ll not only maximize comfort and performance but also safeguard your foot health and well-being during every step of an active lifestyle.

    Remember, investing in quality footwear is an investment in your overall health and enjoyment of walking as a beneficial exercise activity.

    Getting Started With Walking

    Use any of my walking guides or walking workouts to get started logging miles in your new shoes!

    Beauty + Style, Fitness Gear + Fashion, Lifestyle

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    1 Comment

    on Reply

    Hi Chris. I too am a shoe fanatic but as age sets in my shoes got more pratical and comfortable ): .What I am having a hard time with is finding fun fashionable shoes that are comfortable. I am a Swimwear Sales Rep so being in the fashion industry fashion is important but so is comfort ,as I am on my feet all day at Trade Shows when we are in our season. After reading your article I am definately going to check out The Walking Company. Thank you so much for sharing all your great articles on aging gracefully and of course fashionably.

    (This will help us personalize your experience so that you can get the best advice possible from us!)
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