10 Best Walking Shoes for Your Feet, According to Podiatrists
When it comes to buying comfortable walking shoes—particularly for travel or exercise—it's hard to know which to choose. We asked podiatrists to tell us which sneakers and walking shoes they recommend. These choices are good for both men and women, and for travel, exercise, or daily use.
Walking is the most popular form of exercise, and comfortable walking shoes are important, whether you are using them for travel, working out, or just walking every day. More than 145 million adults include walking as a part of their physically active lifestyle, with more than six our of every 10 people walking for transportation, fun, relaxation, while traveling, or for exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only can it help you maintain a healthy weight, but the benefits of walking also include improving or preventing heart disease and high blood pressure, strengthening your bones and muscles, and improving your overall mood.
If you already do or plan to engage in a fair amount of walking, while traveling or just in your everyday life, it’s important to buy a comfortable pair of walking shoes. If you’re going to put in the mileage, you want to choose the most appropriate shoes for your physical activity level and foot type—and all the better if it’s also a doctor-approved shoe. To that end, we asked podiatrists tell use which ones are the best shoes for walking; here’s what they recommended that you look for.
What to consider when buying walking shoes
Because each person’s foot and body are unique, a shoe that’s good for you might not be the same for someone else. However, here are the things you need to look for when purchasing a good pair of walking shoes.
You need to feel balanced in the shoe you’re walking in. “A stiff heel counter with a straight or hybrid last will help with the stability of the shoe,” explains Robert Fridman, DPM, president of Division IX American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons, and a podiatrist at Foot Associates in New York City.
Unique to each person, your arches need to feel supported, especially as you increase your mileage. “Arch support allows the big toe joint more mobility and to support proper alignment,” says Dawn Figlo, DPM, member of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, founder of The Organic Foot, podiatric surgeon in New York City.
If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. This may seem like common sense, but many individuals will try to shove their foot into a shoe that’s too small, either because they really like the shoe (and can’t find it in the correct size), or they think the shoe will stretch out with wear. “Have your foot measured with a Brannock Device for both length and width, because sizing can be different across brands,” says Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare, leading podiatrist, foot and ankle surgeon in New York City. “I recommend always buying shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are most swollen. If they feel comfortable at the end of the day most likely they will feel comfortable throughout the day.”
A shoe could have everything you’re looking for, but if it doesn’t allow for ample airflow, your foot is likely to be sweaty and uncomfortable. “Look for shoes with a breathable fabric upper, that will help manage moisture and odor, too,” says Dr. Fridman. Many shoe stores will allow you to try the shoes for a certain amount of time before deciding if they work for you, so be sure to ask about this, so you’re able to test the breathability.
Comfort is personal, especially when it comes to the width and shape of your foot. If you have wide toes, a narrow fit probably won’t work for you. “A wider toe box will prevent overcrowding of the toes and decrease the influence for bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas,” says Dr. Figlo.
The flex point of a walking shoe is the point at which it bends while walking. “For optimal comfort, the flex point of the shoe should match the bending point of your foot; when it doesn’t align with your foot it can cause problems like arch pain or plantar fasciitis,” explains Dr. Cunha. “You can check the flex point of the shoe by holding it by the heel and pressing the toe of the shoe onto the ground. The point where the shoe bends and creases is the flex point.”
So which shoes incorporate a lot of these aspects that you should look for in a walking shoe? While many of the features vary in importance depending on the individual buying the shoes, we asked our experts to share some of their favorite walking shoes. Here are the best walking shoes for your feet, according to podiatrists.
New Balance 1165v1 Fresh Foam
$17- $185 (depending on size)
You’ll love the feel of foam cushioning in this walking shoe—and the fact that it doesn’t weigh you down. It’s actually one of the lightest walking shoes on the market. “In addition to being lightweight, the shoe is made with synthetic material making it durable for long-term use,” says Dr. Cunha. Bonus: It has removable inserts, so you can replace them with your own.
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6
$125-$294 (depending on size)
These sneakers have an incredible amount of cushioning underfoot that can withstand many, many miles walked in them. It is also a very stable shoe and has a built-in Meta-Rocker that allows for a smooth transition from the heel to toe with each step. “It’s my favorite shoe on the market and I recommend it many times a day for people who have foot issues but want to continue with their exercise protocols,” says Dr. Fridman. “It’s also surprisingly light, which is great for seniors.”
Asics Gel Contend 5 Walking Shoe
$43- $138 (depending on size)
If walking is a part of your daily routine, consider investing in this pair. “It provides a good amount of foot stabilization, and cushions well with through their AmpliFoam midsole,” says Dr. Figlo. Not only is the fabric inside breathable, but the shoe also has an Ortholite sockliner that provides support, comfort, and wicks away moisture.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
$115- $239 (depending on size)
“GTS” in the name of this shoe stands for “go to shoe,” because it’s one of the brand’s most popular models. It’s built with BioMoGo DNA technology, that’s designed to adapt to your foot and movement patterns, so that it can support your unique foot and stride. “I highly recommend them for people with neutral arches or low arches, as they provide great stability, and have extra padding for shock control,” says Dr. Cunha. “These are slightly more expensive than other shoes, but worth the investment.”
Vionic Classic Walker
$66- $123 (depending on size)
Brave the elements in this pair thanks to the water-resistant membrane—and when it’s hot and sunny, the moisture-wicking mesh liner will be sure to keep your feet cool and dry. “I like that this shoe has a biomechanical orthotic that also has an antibacterial top cover,” says Dr. Figlo. Translation: Your shoes will stay smelling fresh even after lots of wear. (Here’s how to get off the couch and go outside.)
New Balance 990v5
$140- $310 (depending on size)
If you like the classic look of a walking sneaker, there is none more iconic than this pair from New Balance. This tried and true sneaker has retained its reputation over time (70 years strong), still offering a good amount of cushioning, stability, and support to your foot. “This shoe is durable, well-cushioned, and has a breathable upper,” says Dr. Fridman. “It also has a muted look, perfect for those people who don’t want ‘loud’ shoes.”
Asics Women’s Gel-Quickwalk 3
$55- $123 (depending on size)
Calling all those who are heavy-footed: The rear gel cushioning in this shoe is made to absorb and reduce the shock made by your foot, for smoother, more comfortable mileage. “These shoes are heavier than others, however, they are very durable and can be worn for longer periods of time,” says Dr. Cunha. “The advantage of these shoes is that they’re designed for all arch-types.”
Orthofeet Women’s Sneaker
Combining comfort with style, this shoe looks as good as it performs. It was created as a solution for individuals suffering from plantar fasciitis, heel pain, or other foot issues. “This shoe provides air cushioning and has a protective interior,” says Dr. Figlo. “They are orthotic friendly, have deep and wide toe boxes, good arch support, and cushioned heels, too.” You have 60 days to decide if this is the right shoe for you (and if not, you’ll get a full refund).
ALTRA Torin 4
ALTRA built its brand on their “zero-drop” mentality, meaning that despite the amount of cushioning, all of their shoes—including this one—have balanced cushioning, so the heel and forefoot are at an equal distance from the ground. This allows the foot to be in optimal alignment. “If you’re used to shoes with a higher heel drop, you need to ease into these because they are zero-drop, and may give you some Achilles tendinitis if you don’t break them in slowly,” says Dr. Fridman, who is a fan of the shoe. “Because of the wide toebox, it’s great for people who have normal width in their heels, but need a wide forefoot due to issues like bunions or neuromas.”
New Balance 928v3 Women’s Walking Shoe
$140-$222 (depending on size)
If you want a low profile walking shoe, look no further. But don’t let this shoe fool you—while it may look basic, it’s anything but. The midsole is lined with compression-molded EVA to cushion and support your foot, and the endurance outsole can stand the test of time. “Structurally, this style can accommodate most pedal deformities because of the wider toe box,” says Dr. Figlo. “The arch support and stability allow for more comfort and less injury risk.” It has a removable footbed, too.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “More People Walk to Better Health”
- Robert Fridman, DPM, president of Division IX American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons, and a podiatrist at Foot Associates in New York City
- Dawn Figlo, DPM, member of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, founder of The Organic Foot, podiatric surgeon in New York City
- Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare, leading podiatrist, foot and ankle surgeon in New York City