What type of shoes should I wear when exercising?

You should wear a comfortable shoe with a closed toe when working out. The shoe should be specific to athletics, with a solid heel and good support throughout the foot and toes. Wearing open-toed shoes could result in injury from dropping weights or stepping incorrectly in a workout area.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Washington State University Athletic Training Education Program.)
Christopher Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Choose sturdy, properly fitting athletic shoes that are roomy enough to support the width of your foot. Sports-specific athletic shoes are recommended if you are frequently involved in a single sport. Sneakers should hold your feet in the position that is most natural to the movement required for the sport. For instance, a running shoe is built to accommodate impact and the sole is designed for forward movement, so you wouldn't want to wear them to a tennis match, where you'll need to move side to side. That's a recipe for an ankle roll. A cross-training shoe may be a wise choice for someone who exercises moderately and participates in a variety of activities. Be sure to pay attention to your sneaker's shelf life. A worn-out shoe won't offer the protection you need.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Wear shoes that are expressly made for your exercise program and replace them when they show signs of too much wear and tear (about every three hundred miles of workouts). You don't need expensive shoes (I never pay more than fifty dollars for a pair), but they should provide good support for your feet and ankles. Be particularly careful about having good shoes if you do aerobics or any sport that involves lots of running, jumping, or bouncing, as you will be more prone to ankle and leg injuries. Replace shoelaces frequently, because they get stretched out quickly, losing their support.
The type of workout shoes you will need will depend on several factors.  One you want to look at what your workout will entail.  Is your workout simply weight training, are you focusing on a more running routine or even a little of both.  Second you need to look at what your body and feet need.  Do you need the extra support that you would get from a cross trainer shoe or need a thin more flexible shoe for running.  Certain shoes provide a certain comfort and support to help you through your workout.  There are a lot of great shoes out there just ask at your local retailer what they would think would be best based on your needs.

Try the latest Nike FREE shoes for working out.  You might think most people need supportive & shock absorbing shoes.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Rather than supporting your foot, Nike FREE's are very flexible.  The small muscles of your feet get a workout too and become stronger and start to do their job of providing foot support.  Because Nike FREE minimizes cushioning, you can feel the ground better and have better body awareness.  And you move smoother when you are in tune to the ground and your shoe does not interfere with your natural motion.

There are numerous types of shoes out now days for workouts.  If you are a runner, running shoes are good because they have built in shock absorbers.  Aerobic shoes are good for aerobic participants because they are light weight and also have shock absorbers.  Many people like myself choose cross-training shoes because they can be used for many different activities. They are quite comfortable, have great heel and toe cushioning and also provide lateral stability. However, if you have a medical condition such as diabetes you should wear an orthotic with plastazote foam because it helps protect hot spots in feet. Diabetics often suffer from poor circulation and neuropathy.  So shoes with high wide spaces in the toe area and firm heel counters for support and stability would be beneficial. Also, some have removable insoles or rocker soles to reduce pain.

The type of shoes you wear will depend on the activity you plan to participate in. A cross-training shoe is appropriate for both weight training and low impact activities. If you participate in a specific sport, choose a shoe that will be protect you from the surface you will be working out on but flexible enough, so that it allows for normal foot mechanics to occur. For example, if you plan on running, a running shoe is appropriate for that activity and will provide you with the necessary support.

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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.