Walking is a fun and easy way to stay fit and get some physical activity into your life. Compared to running on the sidewalk or the treadmill, walking delivers substantially less impact to your knees and ankles, making it a better exercise for the long-term health of your joints. Whether you're looking for a low-impact form of exercise or you just like to stroll around town and see the sights, you'll need a good pair of walking shoes to get you where you're going. When you're shopping for a new pair of walking shoes, don't just pick the first pair that looks cutest sitting on the shelf. You'll want to make sure they fit right and are specially designed for walking to maximize your comfort on long hikes.
Women's walking shoes and running shoes are not interchangeable. Shoes designed for walking should have low heels, because your foot tends to strike the ground heel-first when you're moving at a walking pace. This requires a lower heel height for stability, meaning that walking shoes have less cushioning under the heel and more cushioning under the ball of the foot. Walking shoes should also have a slightly beveled sole, rather than the flared sole found on many running shoes, because flared soles have a tendency catch on your calves and ankles when walking. Finally, because your foot bends more during walking than running, the sole of a walking shoe needs to have extra flexibility, especially at the first joint of your toe where your foot naturally bends.
There is no one best type of walking shoes for women; the best ones are those that best fit individual feet. A walking shoe should fit snugly but not tightly, minimizing movement to prevent blisters. The front of your toes should not touch the shoe front, while your ankle should contact the shoe heel interior at all times. Make sure that your heel does not lift clear of the shoe heel more than 1/8th of an inch when you lift your foot, or you are risking ankle blisters.
The key to getting this perfect fit is to figure out the shape of your arch and the degree of pronation of your foot. If you have flat feet and shallow arches, you most likely over pronate, meaning that your feet roll inward when walking. Over-pronators should select walking shoes with motion control features like padded collars and heel counter insoles to minimize back-and-forth foot movement inside the shoe. They also featured reinforced medial posts on the inside of the sole to compensate for the low height of the foot arch. Those with high arches have the opposite problem of supination, meaning that they walk on the outside edges of the soles. If you tend to supinate, you should pick walking shoes with good shock absorption to cushion your high arches from impact. A board-last stiffened upper is also helpful to maintain the shoe shape for those with high arches.
Walking shoe materials are generally a tradeoff between breathability, weight and water resistance. Leather, for example, is the most durable choice and resists water well, but traps heat inside and is the heaviest material option. Nylon mesh is very lightweight, cool and breathable, but one step in a puddle and your feet will be soaking wet. Your choice of walking shoe material will depend on the climate where you live, as well as your own bodily tendencies. Mesh is better for hot, dry environments while leather is best for wetter climes. If you tend to sweat more, go for mesh over leather as it manages internal moisture better.
When you head out for a quick stroll around the block or an all-day hiking excursion, you'll walk in comfort with the right walking shoes from Sears. When you find that perfect pair, not only will they look great on your feet, they'll prevent cumulative injuries that can come from wearing improperly designed shoes. Lace up and step out in style and comfort with new walking shoes today.