What clothes and shoes do I need to start a walking program?

Prior to starting any form of exercise, be sure to set a goal. If your goal is as simple as “I am going to start walking to get active and be healthy” then that is a wonderful goal! If we do not set ourselves up for success then we will fail.

Some tips and clothing suggestions:

  • Start and walking log and walking calendar. These will allow you to log you steps/miles and track/monitor your progress
  • Have comfortable walking shoes. You need something with support that will help prevent injury
  • Breathable clothing. Dri-fit type attire is great. Try to avoid cotton materials as they will feel heavy.
  • Stretch before and after
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day
  • Eat well balanced meals to keep energy levels up


Paul N. Clayton, MD

Here are a few recommendations for choosing the right pair of shoes:

1) Be sure to have your feet measured. As we get older, have children, gain or lose weight, etc., our feet can change size and shape. Despite what you might think, you may not be the same size that you were in high school.  Also be sure that your feet are measured while you are standing. Several shoe companies will make styles that are available in various widths.

2) Select a shoe based on your activities. If your goal is walking, choose a shoe that is stable, supportive, and well cushioned.  Many running stores can also perform a gait analysis to determine if you need a certain type of shoe.

3) Consider an arch support or orthotic. Many walking or running shoes are well constructed, but have little support. With prolonged walking or standing, muscles and ligaments fatigue and good support will help reduce arch pain.

4) It is worth spending a little extra money to purchase a high quality shoe that will fit your foot correctly and will be more durable. I will typically tell my patients that the materials and support of a shoe wear out somewhere between 300-500 miles. If you are serious about walking or running for exercise, buying shoes every 6 months is not unreasonable and is simply the expense of the activity you have chosen.

5) Finally, if you experience any discomfort or pain while walking, this is not normal and should be evaluated by a podiatrist who can help fine tune shoes or make a custom orthotic specific to your foot.

To get off on the right foot with a walking program, it’s important to have the proper clothing: comfortable, well-fitted walking shoes; appropriate socks; and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Visit a reputable shoe store to find a pair of walking shoes with snug
           arch support and lateral stability for firm footing. Most people 
           have one foot that is slightly larger than the other, so when  
           buying walking shoes, remember to choose a size that fits your
           larger foot properly. Once you start to see wear at the heel,
           especially if it’s uneven, you need a new pair.
  • Avoid cotton socks, which soak up perspiration, and choose ones
           made with fibers that draw moisture away from the skin. Thick
           socks make for a snug fit, which means less friction; thin socks
           help to fight off moisture.
  • Loose-fitting clothing is key because your body temperature will rise
           as you exercise. In colder temperatures, be sure to wear layers
           that you can take off as you warm up.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.