The Best Shoes for Every Type of Workout, According to a Podiatrist

The right pair of workout shoes can make a huge difference. Here are the best ones to buy, according to a podiatrist.

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We probably don't need to tell you this, but it's important to wear a workout shoe that gives you the right kind of support. "In general, good shoes will have noticeable support in the arch of your foot and a strong counter to keep your heel from rotating too much," says Dana Canuso, D.P.M., a podiatric surgeon and founder of Dr. Canuso Skincare for Feet.

Good exercise shoes will also take into account the needs of the activity that's required. For example, Canuso says, "The sneaker might need to be waterproof for general outdoor hiking, or more breathable for lightweight summer running."

There are many different types of shoes that can accommodate an infinite range of foot types. "Variables include the height and shape of the arch, rigidness of the sole, depth of the heel seat, type of material used to make the shoes, toe box size and shape, height of the ankle of the shoe, Velcro straps versus laces, and more," Canuso says.

According to Canuso, a person with a flexible flat foot should look for a supportive, rigid shoe while someone with a rigid high-arch foot should be looking for something with significant shock absorption and flexibility. You can also break it down by type of activity, since different workouts call for specific kinds of sneakers that offer the right support.

Here's the shoe to pick based on the type of workout you're doing. Of course, you can still speak to your podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon for any additional help based on your foot's specific build and needs.

Hands of young woman lacing pink sneakers
Getty Images / bfk92

Best Workout Shoes

Walking: Brooks Addiction Walker Suede

Canuso says it's important to find a shoe "with arch support, moderate cushion and comfort." She adds, "When walking outdoors, it is important to have a shoe that stabilizes you in case you are on uneven pavement, grass or gravel."

Whether you're walking around your neighborhood or on uneven terrain, these shoes provide good cushioning and support to keep your feet comfy and protected. (We also have a handy guide to help you find the best walking shoes, if these aren't your style.)

Brooks Addiction Walker Suede


Running: Mizuno Wave Horizon 4

It's very important that you know your foot type before purchasing a running shoe. The type of shoe you should wear depends on your arches, as the stride differs for those with high or low arches, or flat feet.

"For flat-footed runners, I like Mizuno Wave Horizon," says Canuso. "There is a need for stability and motion control," she says to provide support for the lack of arch. These are a nice option to help you run with ease.

Mizuno Wave Horizon 4


"Another option could be Asics Gel Nimbus 23, if you have neutral or higher arches on your foot," she says. For high-arch feet that supinate, where the weight is placed on the outside of each foot as you run, you will need more cushioning. This option is great for added cushion and comfort to protect high-arch runners.

ASICS GEL-Nimbus® 23

ASICS GEL-Nimbus® 23

Fitness Studio Workout: Women's Nike Metcon 4

"A shoe that supports lateral movement is key for this activity, as well as a shoe that has a stable heel counter and traction," Canuso says. The increased range of motion helps you feel comfortable doing different training moves in workout classes.

This shoe also features a "chain-link" mesh that helps cool down the foot and flexes as you speed through certain types of agility drills. There's also good support at the midfoot and heel if you want to use these for weight training.

Nike Free Metcon 4

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Biking: Nike Flex Experience Run 10

Canuso says, "Search for a flexible shoe that allows for pointing the toe and more flexible movement in your feet, like in these Nike sneakers." When biking you need a shoe that will allow your feet to pedal with ease and go in a wide range of motion. The upper of the shoe is chic, but also has lightweight cushioning in the heel and midfoot support to keep your feet secure so you won't feel like you're slipping out of your shoe as you pedal.

Nike Flex Experience Run 10

Nike flex run shoe

Cardio Dance Workout or Zumba: Rykä Influence

For dance workouts, Canuso recommends looking for a lightweight shoe that absorbs shock when you are jumping around. This shoe is lightweight but still provides plenty of support and cushions against impact, thanks to its Precise-Return insole.

Ryka Influence


Spinning/Cycling: Giro Gauge Women's Mountain Indoor Cycling Shoes

It is well worth the investment to buy a pair of indoor cycling shoes with clips rather than spinning in sneakers Not only will you get a better workout, but it's also safer while you are pedaling.

"I recommend these indoor cycling shoes, which have clipless pedal features and lots of support," Canuso says. The rubber outsole paired with an upper made with breathable material (a mesh) helps wick away sweat and keep your feet dry and comfortable as you cycle along.

Giro Gauge Cycling Shoe


HIIT Training: New Balance FuelCell Propel RMX

Cushion is key here for support. However, you don't want your shoes to be too bulky when you're doing HIIT workouts, since they could get in the way of your movements and may even lead you to trip.

Canuso says, "A bulky shoe is going to get in the way of your quick endurance exercises, so look for something like these New Balances, which keep your feet snug inside the shoe and offer a supportive fit."

The full-length FuelCell midsole provides a high energy return among other performance foams on the market, and its special rubber outsole technology has increased durability so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

New Balance FuelCell Propel RMX


Boxing: Brooks Ghost 13

"The key here is lightweight and stable, and cushioning is not as important since [boxing] is generally low-impact for your feet," Canuso says. Yet, instead of getting boxing shoes, which are really just specific to boxing and won't work as well for different kinds of workouts, these can still be used for other activities, making them a more practical option.

What's more, these have a new engineered mesh upper that fits the feet better and offers more comfort and breathability, so the toe box can stay drier as you sweat. The mesh upper is breathable and also stretchy, so it accommodates different foot shapes (which is especially great if your feet are prone to swelling). Plus, the new Air Mesh technology keeps your toes cool as your train on those humid, scorching days.

Brooks Ghost 13


Strength Training/Weight Training: Brooks Addiction Walker 2

Canuso says to "look for a shoe that supports extra weight and gives increased stability," since your feet need to be rooted to the ground as you perform squats, lunges and other weight-bearing exercises. These have maximum support and excellent cushioning and they also have slip-resistant soles so you feel more stable, especially when holding weights overhead or on your shoulders. These shoes also work for runs and walks, so they're extremely versatile and will help you make the most of your purchase!

Brooks Addiction Walker 2

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