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Walking is one of the healthiest forms of exercise. "Research suggests that walking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve longevity," says Stefani Sassos, deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Nutrition Lab and a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer. "A regular walking practice can even improve a person's cognition and also help decrease symptoms of anxiety and improve mood." However, wearing the wrong sneakers can put you at risk of foot pain and injury. With so many factors to consider, we at the Good Housekeeping Institute partnered with medical experts to find the best walking shoes for women.
Our top picks:
Best Overall: Brooks Ghost 15
Best Value: Tiosebon Slip-On Walking Shoe
Best Lightweight: New Balance FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker
Best for Standing All Day: Rykä Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe
Best for Wide Feet: Orthofeet Stretchable Plantar Fasciitis Coral Sneaker
We teamed up with sports medicine physician Jordan Metzl, M.D., and foot and ankle surgeon A. Holly Johnson, M.D., who practices at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, as well as Emily Splichal, a podiatrist at the Center for Functional and Regenerative Podiatric Medicine in Chandler, Arizona, to answer your most pressing questions about how to find the best walking shoes for women that are comfy to wear and healthy for your feet.
We focused extensively on comfort during our vetting process, which included evaluating more than 1,000 data points collected over 200 hours of walking, thanks to dozens of consumer testers. Though some of our picks for the best walking shoes for women may be labeled as a running shoe or a trainer, we vetted each of these pairs to ensure they're suitable for walking.
Whether you’re walking long distances for exercise, travel or work, or just running errands, you’ll need the right pair of shoes to help keep you pain-free while you're on your feet all day. At the end of this guide, read more about how we chose the best walking shoes for women and learn everything you need to know about how to shop for the right fit. Looking for more shoe recommendations? Check out our picks for the best walking shoes for men, best running shoes and the best walking sandals to buy this year.
Ghost 15 Neutral Running Shoe
Help prevent foot pain after exercise with a shoe that prioritizes stability and control. Brooks is a popular running shoe brand, but walkers love this style, as it has ample cushioning and a comfortable heel. The Ghost 15 has a massive following for being a supportive, versatile sneaker that can easily transition from walking to running. We found this pair to be comfortable to wear during gym workouts too. This pair features a larger heel drop, measuring 12 millimeters, which is likely too high for runners who land on the middle or front of the foot.
Tester notes: "The shoe felt supportive while standing for long periods of time (like at a concert) as well as when walking around a city," noted one tester who said these are her new go-to walking shoes. One tester with chronic foot pain said she usually finds "no shoes comfortable to wear, but these are amazing." The sneakers got high marks across the board for cushioning, support and traction, with one tester saying it "didn't even feel like I was running on pavement while wearing these."
Slip-On Walking Shoe
Not only are these Tiosebon sneakers by far the most affordable shoes in our roundup, starting at under $40, but they also have more than 29,000 Amazon reviews. Podiatrists like how lightweight they are (less than 150 grams per shoe) but are wary of the thicker heel cushioning. Compared with other pairs, this style doesn't offer as much support and stability, both of which can help promote foot strength. Available in 35 different shades, the mesh upper is highly breathable, with a socklike fit.
Tester notes: These slip-on sneakers were popular for their cushioning. One tester said, "They didn't look like clunky orthopedic shoes, but they felt as if they were padded with four inches of memory foam," and another raved that "they're easy on, easy off." Testers didn’t rate the appearance as high as other styles, though.
FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker
Weighing around 150 grams per shoe, these New Balance sneakers are among the lightest we tested, and they were popular with our testers and podiatrists. Podiatrists liked that these allow lots of freedom of movement, with mesh in the front of the shoe. The slip-on design features a tongue that stays put for easy on, easy off, making this a great commuter shoe too. We noted that this shoe has a thinner midsole compared with other picks, which allows for quicker movement but offers less cushioning. With an impressive 69,000 Amazon reviews, these shoes are an excellent value for a top-tested sneaker.
Tester notes: Blown away by comfort straight out of the box, one tester exclaimed, "Right when I put them on, they started molding to my feet." With high marks across the board for cushioning and comfort, testers unanimously said they would continue wearing these shoes. Testers credited the front mesh for making the shoes breathable and comfy over bunions.
Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe
Rykä is a popular brand for women's sneakers, as the brand designs specifically for the shape of a woman's feet. Podiatrists liked that the shoe offered good mobility with soft cushioning — great for walking and fitness classes alike. We liked the segmented outsole for traction on all types of walks but noted that the foam didn't appear as durable as other styles.
Tester notes: Impressed with "how lightweight and breathable these were," as one tester noted, the panel of testers gave these shoes perfect scores for cushioning and support. One tester even said she felt like she was "walking on clouds." Unlike other walking shoes testers had tried, they called this pair "sleek" and "stylish."
Stretchable Plantar Fasciitis Coral Sneaker
If you have wide feet or plantar fasciitis, sneaker shopping can be a challenge. Orthofeet stretchable sneakers are offered in medium, wide, extra-wide and extra-extra-wide widths, with sizes from 5 to 12 (half sizes included). These shoes are designed to offer more stability, thanks to their orthotic insoles, cushioning throughout and padding on the backs. The sneakers have a mild rocker-style design to help propel you forward when walking, but they were one of the heavier styles we tested.
Tester notes: "The most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn, but aesthetically not my favorite," one tester noted. Another tester said this pair "aided in pain relief with my knees after exercise or walking." The sneakers received perfect scores for cushioning and comfort from testers.
Sneakers from Allbirds are a popular travel option, since you can toss them right into the washer for easy cleaning after a long trip (just make sure to remove the insoles first). When we washed this pair, we noticed no changes in appearance, but a wash cycle didn't remove all of the stains. The knit upper is made with lyocell, which is known for its silky feel and moisture-wicking properties. Note that this pick isn't available in half sizes.
Tester notes: A whopping 91% of our testers gave these shoes a perfect rating for comfort. One tester loved that "they're super comfortable all day long, even with lots of walking." Many testers noted that they especially liked that they could go sock-free with this pair.
ASICS Women's GT-2000 9 Running Shoes, 7, MAKO Blue/Grey Floss
Infinity Glide Sneaker
Lacing up your sneakers before running out the door can be a hassle, but slip-on shoes tend to sacrifice style. This pair from Avre solves that problem with a chic slip-on design that's trendy yet easy to wear. Take note: The AAPI-owned brand does recommend going down half a size for the best fit.
Tester notes: One GH Institute Textiles Lab analyst wears this pair nearly every day, saying, "I absolutely love how easy it is to take these sneakers on and off, making them the perfect commuting shoe. I have walked many miles in this pair and still find them supportive and comfy."
Rest Amber Backstrap Sandal
Vionic specifically designs orthotic shoes, but with such fashionable styles and chic embellishments, you’d never know. These walking sandals have a microfiber-wrapped footbed for soft comfort and a rubber outsole for traction. The flexible ethylene-vinyl acetate midsole helps absorb shock and support your arches. Available in multiple colors, these trendy leather sandals can go from day to night with ease. Because this style isn't available in half sizes, the brand recommends sizing down if you're between sizes.
Tester notes: Although testers haven't tried this exact pair yet, panelists who've tested the brand's other styles rave that "Vionic shoes keep my feet pain-free all day without having to wear ugly orthotics." Testers also loved Vionic's sneakers for providing excellent cushioning and support.
How we test walking shoes
In recent evaluations, we've tested more than 50 different styles of walking shoes, leading to over 1,200 data points collected. In addition to evaluating each pair in the Lab, we sent shoes to consumer testers with a range of shoe sizes and foot shapes. Testers walked for at least two hours before giving feedback. In the end, testers walked for more than 300 hours total while evaluating the shoes. We even saw sneakers in half (as pictured) so podiatrists and other footwear experts could review the shoe and analyze the efficacy and longevity of the materials.
✔️ Comfort: How the shoes feel on your feet is the most important thing. Therefore, we rated comfort highly when analyzing testers' feedback, noting in particular the comfort of the footbed, tongue and ankle opening.
✔️ Support: The right footbed helps keep your feet properly supported while on the move, reducing strain on your arches. Testers gave extensive feedback on each pair's arch support and fit notes.
✔️ Weight: In the Lab, we weighed each shoe to nix overly clunky styles.
✔️ Construction: After sawing each shoe in half, podiatrists and other footwear experts reviewed the inner construction and foam to find the most supportive styles.
Terms to know when shopping for walking shoes
Sneaker terminology can be extremely confusing, so it's hard to know what actually matters when you're shopping. Some of these keywords might be extremely important to some shoppers and not to others. Below, our experts explain all of the main walking shoe terms so you know what to look for before you buy:
✔️ Heel drop refers to the difference in the height of the midsole at your heel and at the ball of your foot. Most walking shoes tend to have a lower heel drop (around four to eight millimeters) that's more like being barefoot, while running shoes have a larger difference (10-plus millimeters). It comes down to personal preference, so check out your current pair of shoes and measure the heel drop to see what you like or dislike. Foot and ankle surgeon Dr. A. Holly Johnson advises that for most people, "no major heel drop" is best for walking shoes. Note that many brands choose not to list heel drop.
✔️ Pronation is when your ankle leans inward, and supination is when your ankle leans outward. Ideally, everyone's ankles would have neutral alignment, but many people are pronators or supinators. Some styles are designed specifically for each type of ankle alignment, but many are for neutral alignment.
✔️ Rocker-style shoes feature a thicker sole with a rounded heel compared with traditional sneakers. They're available as either a rocker sole (sole curves up to the toes) or a heel-to-toe rocker (sole curves up to the toes and also back to the heels). These styles are beneficial to some but can take time to get used to and aren't suggested for older adults. As with all shoes, discuss best options with your podiatrist.
✔️ Surface types may be listed for the shoes, which refers to where the sneakers can be worn: road, track, treadmill, trail, etc. This is most important for trail shoes to ensure that the outsole has proper traction to help keep you safe.
✔️ Cushioning can vary immensely for different walking shoe styles. Dr. Johnson says that thick cushioning can help "lessen impact per step and absorb impact." She also finds that cushioning for the arches "helps with flat feet and overpronators to keep the foot supported." But too much cushioning can feel bulky, so "you can feel unbalanced." Thick-cushioned shoes are heavier too. Generally, very cushioned walking shoes are best for extreme long-distance walkers and people with specific injuries who need more support.
What to know when shopping for walking shoes
When trying on walking shoes, here are the best steps to take to help ensure you find a winning pair:
✔️ Discuss concerns with your podiatrist. If you are recovering from an injury or having consistent foot pain, we recommend discussing which shoes are best suited for your feet specifically with a podiatrist or an orthopedist to help you find the most comfortable pair.
✔️ Pick them up before trying them on. Avoid superheavy styles that’ll bog you down. One exception: If you have flat feet and need more support, a heavier style might be preferable to offer sufficient control.
✔️ Give the shoe a twist. Podiatrist Emily Splichal says to twist the sneaker as if you're wringing out a towel. Our experts recommend styles with more twistability (i.e., less control) if you can handle it: It helps you develop stronger muscles from your feet to your glutes.
✔️ Try on as many styles as possible. There’s no one-size-fits-all shoe. Each brand — and even each style — varies in sizing and fit, which can have a big effect on your foot.
✔️ Find the right fit. Wiggle your toes to make sure the shoes aren't too tight, and walk a few laps around the store so you can avoid shoes that pinch or squeeze your feet. If you have any existing foot pain, sports medicine physician Dr. Jordan Metzl suggests going with the pair that "makes the pain go away when you're walking around the store," as that's a good indicator you've found a winning shoe.
✔️ Choose comfort over everything else. Dr. Metzl stresses that comfort is key. Regardless of the product claims, you should be "as objective as you can for support and comfort." And trust your instincts — your feet will know which shoe is right. If your toes feel cramped or your heels are rubbing on the backs while you're testing the shoes, ditch them. It'll only get worse the more you walk in them.
Can you wear running shoes while going for a walk?
Generally, yes, the same shoes you love to wear running can also be worn on a walk. Walking and running shoes can include different design features, but some styles are intended for both activities. Therefore, it's most important that the shoe is comfortable and supportive on your foot when walking for exercise. Running shoes tend to have more control to brace for impact on the sole, and walking shoes have a bit more flex and bend. Splichal recommends running only in running sneakers, especially ones with more cushioning for long-distance running.
Though sneakers may look alike, there are differences when it comes to which kind of sneaker is best suited for certain types of physical activity. Indoor cycling shoes and shoes for hiking have totally different designs, but running and walking shoes tend to feature similar construction. Dr. Johnson found that sometimes the only difference between a brand's running shoe and walking shoe is just marketing. "If the shoe is comfortable, it is the right shoe for you," she says.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab has been a leading expert on footwear for decades.
Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst. She’s been at Good Housekeeping for more than three years, overseeing Lab and consumer tests for a variety of fitness products, including the walking shoes above, running shoes, hiking shoes, the best yoga mats, workout leggings for every type of exercise, the best sports bras and more. With a degree in fiber science and apparel design from Cornell University, she has extensive research experience, particularly focused on athletic wear.
For this story, she also spoke to the following experts:
Emily Splichal is a podiatrist at the Center for Functional and Regenerative Podiatric Medicine in Chandler, Arizona.
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