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Find the Right Exercise Shoe

Fitness for mind and body.

When it comes to shoes for exercise, the choices are overwhelming. But the bottom-line is simple: Shoes should fit well and be comfortable. The right shoes offer both support and flexibility precisely where you need it. In addition, they protect your bones, joints, and muscles--from the toes to the top, keeping your feet in healthy positions and absorbing shock.

Exercise Shoe

Walking shoes are the most rigid and durable. But even for walking, many people prefer running shoes. Running shoes provide plenty of cushioning, which can feel good to walkers. If you have high arches in your feet, running shoes may be better because of the extra flexibility in the front (toe) half of the shoe.

Tips for Runners

If you have low arches, look for hefty arch support and a fairly straight cut along the inside edge of the sole. If you have high arches, look for tame arch support and greater curve along the inside edge.

Running shoes are geared for heel-to-toe movement. Shoes designed for tennis and related sports offer maximum support from side-to-side. If you engage in a variety of athletic activities, you may be looking for a pair of cross-training or general purpose athletic shoes. However, some general guidelines apply to all shoe shopping:

Shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are at maximum size. (They swell during the day). Wear the socks you normally wear with athletic shoes to assure the right fit.

Try on both shoes. Most people's feet vary a bit in size from each other, so you should be sure the shoes fit your largest foot comfortably.

Check for space at the end of your longest toe. There should be enough to let you move without pinching. Some experts recommend the length of a thumbnail.

If you're a woman and your feet are wide, try men's shoes. These are usually cut wider. To find a size for starters, start with your own size, and subtract two.

Move around in the shoes, and insist that they feel like a perfect fit right away. If they don't, keep looking.

Use the "feel" test for any high-tech gimmicks. Some may help. Some may be hype. Your feet will know! Don't shop by price alone, but do look for materials that breathe and good workmanship. Replace running shoes after 500 miles, walking shoes after 1,000 miles, and aerobics shoes after about a year of regular use.

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.