Walking is one of the most popular fitness activities in the world, and it’s easy to understand why. The exercise is low impact, so many people can easily do it regardless of age or physical condition.
That said, like any other form of exercise, walking is simply easier and more beneficial when you have the right gear. Whether that’s comfortable sandals for a walk on the beach, or a supportive pair of sneakers for heavy-duty power walks, your apparel can make or break your workout.
That doesn’t mean you have to shell out big bucks for fitness equipment. Instead, simply having the right footwear is often all you need.
Consider a pair of minimalist walking shoes if you’re looking for a style that will boost your strength and overall balance as well. The following information will help you better understand why this may be the ideal option for your needs.
What You Need to Know About Minimalist Walking Shoes
Most popular walking shoes include an arch. That’s not the case with the minimalist style. These shoes feature a flat sole, as well as extra space for a person’s toes. This allows for a freer range of motion than other styles typically provide.
Minimalist walking shoes were designed to more closely mimic the beneficial effects of walking barefoot. Obviously, most people don’t feel comfortable walking barefoot most of the time, and finding a surface to walk on that’s free of painful debris isn’t easy.
However, studies show that people who frequently wear traditional walking shoes are prone to anatomical changes. Quite simply, this type of footwear constricts the feet and limits their functionality.
Minimalist walking shoes reduce this constricting effect. This offers a wide range of benefits. For example, the arch in most walking shoes doesn’t allow certain muscles in the feet and legs to develop as fully as they would if a person were walking barefoot.
Essentially, the added support prevents walkers from using muscles that serve a genuine purpose. Switching to minimalist walking shoes allows them to use these muscles more freely. The effects of this style on balance are also positive. Shoes that constrict the toes prevent the wearer from taking advantage of the foot’s true shape. When the toes have more space, the feet return to their natural triangular shape. This added surface area provides a foundation for the body that results in enhanced balance. Evidence also suggests that it results in better posture over time.
To find the pair of minimalist walking shoes that’s best for you, consider where you plan on walking. For instance, if you plan on hiking or walking in unpaved conditions, opt for a pair with a thick sole. Many styles are designed for this purpose. While you’ll probably find that walking in minimalist shoes requires some adjustment at first, the long term benefits are more than worth it.
By Rae Steinbach
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).
Her twitter handle is @araesininthesun