t’s time to hit the gym, so you grab your sneakers, lace up, and head out the door. It doesn’t matter what workout you’re doing—one shoe fits all, right? Not quite. Here, we break down the best type of shoe to support specific exercises.
If you’re … walking on the treadmill
Wear: A walk-specific shoe
Why: Studies show that walkers have a heavy heel strike. Proper walking shoes take this into account, offering a stiffer heel and more cushion under the ball of the foot to offer extra support for the heel-to-toe motion. Prefer to power walk? Look for a more flexible shoe with added cushion in both the heel and toe, which will work on walks with a quicker clip.
If you’re … joining a group fitness class
Wear: A training shoe
Why: With all of the lateral and high-impact moves you make in a class (think: jumps, burpees, lunges), a training shoe is designed to offer better stability and traction than running shoes. With moderate cushioning and a stable feel, the wide bottom of cross-training shoes are extra durable to handle the gamut of surfaces, from gym floors to tennis courts. The shoes are also ideal for your time on cardio machines, during strength training, and short sprint intervals.
If you’re …. going for a run
Wear: A run-specific shoe
Why: Whether you prefer extra cushion or are more of a minimalist, one thing’s for sure: You should wear shoes specific to the sport. Running shoes are designed to provide the stability and cushion for cumulative mileage while avoiding bulk and stiffness. Because everyone’s foot shape and running form is different, finding the perfect pair requires a little legwork. Head to your nearest running speciality shop for a gait analysis and other advice on which type of shoe is right for you.
If you’re … hitting the trails
Wear: A trail-running shoe
Why: Sure, standard running shoes have plenty of support. But trail shoes have even more embellishments that will keep you upright as you navigate over roots and rocks. Extra nubby and sticky rubber tread on the outsole boosts stability, while thicker toe boxes help to prevent the dreaded black toenail and blisters. Another functional feature? Waterproof and breathable liners to keep your feet dry during a wet run (or after a creek crossing). If you think all trail shoes are stiff and bulky, think again: There’s a variety of styles to choose from, including some that have the same amount of give and weight as a standard running shoe.
If you’re … doing yard work or running errands
Wear: Casual shoes or a spare pair of sneakers
Why: Pulling on your favorite shoes when you’re heading out for a couple of quick stops seems like the sensible thing to do. But be mindful that each mile—whether you’re hauling leaves in your yard or walking the dog—adds up. And because you want to maintain the longevity of your prime pair as long as possible, it’s best to keep some casual shoes lying around. Even better? Hit up a buy-one-get-one sale next time you go shoe shopping. That way you’ll have a pair to work out in—and a pair for everything else.