The 9 Best Shoes for Walking, According to Podiatrists
Walking has a myriad of health benefits and can even help you to lose weight when paired with a healthy diet. But you don't want to log miles in unsupportive shoes or shoes that aren't right for your feet—and don't even think about walking in flip-flops. When looking for the best walking shoes for women, there are numerous things to consider. Comfort is key, of course, but you'll also need to think about the unique shape of your foot, says Jamie Yakel, a sports podiatrist in Longmont, Colorado, and past president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. "If you have a high-arched foot, look for a shoe with more cushioning to help absorb shock. If you have more of a flat foot, look with a shoe with more support and stability," Yakel says.
Something that might surprise you? Your foot size can change as you get older, so you should always remeasure your foot when buying new shoes. A 2018 study in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research indicated that between 63 and 72% of people wear inappropriately sized footwear, which can lead to problems such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, blisters, corns, ingrown toenails and more.
A general rule of thumb when searching for the best women's walking shoes: The correct walking shoe should provide cushion or shock absorption (for both the ball of the foot and the heel), stability and the right amount of arch support for your individual foot type (flatfoot, neutral or high arch), says Suzanne Fuchs, a board-certified podiatrist specializing in sports medicine and foot and ankle surgery at Luxe Podiatry in Jupiter, Florida.
And you may not want to hear it, but you should never choose a walking shoe based on appearance. "No question, you sacrifice style for comfort," says Yakel. Walking shoes can be a little bit blander compared to training shoes, which are flashier and come in more colors—but above all, opt for comfort, stability and quality over anything else when it comes to the best walking shoes for women. Here, foot pros share their top picks.
The Best Walking Shoes for Women
"This is a really good shoe that has been around for a long time and provides maximum support for those with flat feet," says Yakel. The proprietary cushioning adapts to your stride, weight and speed to reduce impact on your joints. Roomier in the toe box, it's a good choice for anyone who wears orthotics. Overlook the basic design and colors (it only comes in a few shades) to discover how comfy this shoe really is.
Made of lightweight, breathable mesh (in bright colors, to boot!), these walking shoes are flexible yet still provide ample shock absorption and cushioning. "These comfortably fit a woman's foot, and are designed to give your feet more space and address biological differences in men's and women's feet," says Fuchs. Furthermore, "A balanced cushioning platform provides better alignment by positioning your heel and forefoot at an equal distance from the ground," she says.
New Balance 928v3
Look past the somewhat geriatric appearance of this pair (although the tan and white options aren't so bad), and you'll invest in really great walking shoes that have plenty of support and are extra-well-cushioned. "New Balance is known for wide widths, so if you have a wide foot or experience foot swelling, this shoe is a good choice," says Yakel. This particular style comes in narrow, standard and wide, as well as X-wide and XX-wide, to accommodate any width of foot.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
If you're looking for a go-to shoe that performs equally well for cross-training and HIIT sessions as it does hitting the walking path (or even running), look no further. With an impressive 19 color combinations to choose from, "this is a fairly lightweight shoe for a neutral to high-arch foot type [that] provides plenty of cushion, shock absorption and stability," says Fuchs.
Altra Paradigm 5
In a road test, these shoes almost felt bouncy, in the most pleasant way, and the bold hues they come in make you smile just putting them on. That's not to say they're not as functional as they are cute, though. "The Paradigm is all about comfort and support when you hit the pavement," says Michelle Gilpin, doctor of physical therapy with Evolution Healthcare & Fitness in Portland, Oregon. "They're ideal for anyone looking for a correct, cushioned, comfortable walking style and will keep your feet happy for many, many miles."
Saucony Omni 19
This is an excellent supportive, stable shoe for women who have trouble with bunions or tailor's bunions, thanks to their wide forefront—yet the heel still fits snugly, which can be a tough combination to find in a walking shoe. "The cushioning and support in these shoes are outstanding," says Yakel, "and they provide great traction for different surface conditions."
Hoka One One Bondi 7
If it seems like all your friends (and their parents) are wearing bizarrely chunky-looking Hokas these days, you're not alone. Try a pair of these once and you'll be hooked on their ultra-breathable, lightweight material that provides lots of cushioning and shock absorption, thanks to a full-length EVA midsole. "A slight rocker bottom [enables] a smooth transition when walking that will prevent too much pressure and strain on the midfoot and ball of your foot while still providing support and stability," says Fuchs.
This brand makes footwear exclusively for women, with a narrower heel, roomier forefront, increased instep volume and a more secure footbed. "I particularly like the extra cushion the shoe provides around the collar and tongue. This allows walkers to tighten their laces without constricting blood supply and causing irritation," says Wenjay Sung, a podiatrist based in Los Angeles. There's extra cushion built into the midfoot of the shoe for shock absorption too.
Brooks Ghost 13
This attractive shoe, which feels plush from the moment you slip your foot in, strikes the perfect balance of being lightweight yet cushioning for impact absorption, says Graham Wolff, general manager at Fleet Feet at the Roosevelt Collection Shops in Chicago. Plus, he adds, "Its engineered-mesh upper is roomy and smooth, and it provides just a bit of stretch to help mold it around the unique shape of your foot." Wear these on hot summer days for supreme breathability.