You can't have a great workout without great shoes. They may seem like an afterthought before you hit the gym, but in order to maintain healthy bones and joints and be on your way to your goal weight, it's important to choose the right shoes. Generic sneakers may not work as well for the type of exercise you do. For example, a runner wouldn't be wearing the same shoes as a basketball player, because the types of physical activity require the body to move differently.
But whichever type of shoe you end up choosing, there is a general rule for all types of shoes: Make sure they fit right. Be sure your foot has enough room – there should be a thumbnail's width, or about a half inch, between your toes and the end of the shoe. Examine how your heel moves in the shoe as well – you don't want it easily slipping out. The shoe should not pinch or bind any area of your foot, especially across the arch and ball of your foot.
If you're a big walker – you walk to the store, around the neighborhood and also for exercise – you're going to need a shoe that supports all of the physical activity that you do. A good walking shoe should be fairly lightweight and provide ample shock absorption. You should be choosing a shoe that accommodates your arch type. Here are the three categories:
High-arched feet: This type could cause excessive strain on joints and muscles and your feet may not absorb impact as well. Therefore, those with high arches should be looking for shoes with plenty of cushioning to compensate.
Low-arched or flat feet: Muscle stress and joint problems may come from low-arched feet. While taking a joint supplement may help promote healthy joints, choosing the right shoe may help as well. Search for a walking shoe with motion control to help stabilize your feet.
Neutral-arched feet: These feet are neither low or high-arched. Therefore, you should be looking for a shoe with firm midsoles, straight soles and moderate rear-foot stability.
If you plan on running long distances, look for shoes with neutral cushioning and motion control. Mark Sheehan, vice president of product development at K-Swiss, said that the more tired a runner gets, the more his or her form suffers. Therefore, runners need a shoe that is going to give them the stability they need every time their foot hits the ground in order to prevent injury.
Whether you're attending Zumba or breaking a sweat for a spin class, group fitness activities require a shoe that has a multi-purpose outsole, with a durable and breathable upper and lower midsole. This will give you just the right amount of cushioning and shock absorption to cover you in whatever type of activity you'll be doing that day.
Tennis players need to be able to move in a variety of directions, so they need a shoe that can keep up with all of their movement. Look for extra support around the midfoot and a flexible outsole that allows for smooth stopping and starting.