What benefits do toning shoes provide?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Anyone who walks regularly is familiar with the popularity of "toning" shoes. You know the shoes -- they're premium-priced ($100 to $200) and have rounded soles that curve up sharply at both ends. Every step lands you on a springy rocking-horse arc that rolls you forward. The action throws you slightly off-balance at first, but that's part of the point. The bit of effort involved in rebalancing may tap some different muscles and can actually improve your balance (although if you have real balance issues, they could trigger falls).

The balance challenges have caused some controversy, but the shape-up claims have triggered more -- including at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Typical claims: Toning shoes do more for your posture, joints and legs than regular fitness shoes do. They tone your butt. They even burn more calories. Really?

Not really. Expert tests show that you don't use more oxygen, increase your heart rate, burn more calories or work muscles harder than you do in regular fitness shoes. As for the FTC, it recently commanded Reebok to refund $25 million to consumers for making "toning" claims it couldn't support. Apply for a refund.

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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.