Walking is a great form of exercise, with lots of physical and mental health benefits. Walking can give you a new appreciation for the outdoors. And the joy that can be found in going outside for a daily walk is unrivalled.
Walking outdoors is fantastic for a change of scenery, getting fresh air, sunlight and moving your body. Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking can help you build stamina, burn calories and improve your heart health. With all its benefits, why not take walking as an ongoing habit for a healthy lifestyle change and get the best trainers to make sure your feet are comfortable, supported and can go the distance!
What is the difference between trainers and walking shoes?
Walking and running objectively seem like similar activities, however, the two are different, as are the demands they place on your feet and your footwear.
When walking your body weight is spread more evenly on your feet compared to when you are running. There are points where both feet are firmly on the ground, diverging the amount of weight your feet support.
Running, on the other hand, demands the support of at least two to three times your body weight as each stride has moments with neither of your feet are positioned on the ground.
Walking shoes are designed with the specific body mechanics of walking in mind. Built to be more flexible through the ball of the foot to provide more range of motion. It also provides more arch support to protect where the force is heaviest on the foot.
Trainers on the other hand provide extra ankle support for both forward and lateral movement. These type of shoes have been developed for going to the gym and casual wear. They have not been developed for use in long runs and are best used for shorter stints.
Related: The best waterproof walking boots
Best trainers for walking
11 of the best trainers for walking
1. Nike React Escape Run Trainers
Whether you're out for a walk with friends or on a solo trip to the shops, these trainers will squeeze some added self-care into your life with their comfortable cushioning designed specifically for women's feet. The midsole is made from a springy and durable foam which will react to your feet with every mile.
Pros: Has a wider collar, cushioned foam and eight colours
Cons: Better for casual wear
2. New Balance Women's 624v5 Trainers
With EVA foam midsoles for firm yet flexible cushioning and shock absorption, this New Balance comes with width sizes including Standard, Wide, X-Wide and XX-Wide. Spacious and comfortable, you'll find the right fit at last!
Pros: Good for wide feet
Cons: Hot in comparison to mesh trainers
3. Jack Walker Walking Trainer
With a six-month sole warranty, these trainers have it all: breathability, scruff protection, water-resistance, slip-resistance and good grip. Available in black with a white and orange trim, we think these look great and wouldn't look out of place anywhere you choose to walk.
Pros: Good grip and breathable
Cons: Water-resistant but not waterproof
4. Mountain Warehouse Outdoor Women’s Walking Shoes
Perfect for hiking, long walks and everyday use, these trainers have heel and toe bumpers to protect your feet from direct impact as well as ensuring your footwear last longer. Durable and breathable, the EVA cushioning moulds well to your foot to provide the comfort and support you need whilst out and about.
Pros: Affordable and good support
Cons: Sole could be thicker
5. STQ Women’s Slip-on Walking Shoes
These easy to slip-on and off trainers come in a range of colours to suit your style and still provide excellent comfort with air-cushioned, memory foam soles. Lightweight, breathable and with arch support, you're guaranteed comfort wherever you go.
Pros: Lightweight, lots of colours and easy to slip on
Cons: Shoe opening can be a little too tight
6. Minbei Women’s Trainers
Lightweight and breathable, these comfortable trainers come with buffer shock absorption and cushioning which will help support your feet and knees for every step of your journey. Affordable and available in 32 colours, you can lace up and step out in style.
Pros: Lots of colours and good value
Cons: Soles can be a bit slippery
7. GAXmi Women’s Trainers
In a fashionable range of colours, these trainers were made for pounding the pavements with the shock-absorbing midsole, letting you walk safely and comfortably without too much impact on the concrete. Made from a flexible mesh fabric, they offer superior breathability, which will keep your feet cool, especially in warmer weather.
Pros: Many colours and good for urban walking
Cons: A little big, size up
8. Gelert Women’s Waterproof Walking Shoes
I own a pair of these myself and can testify that after an extremely muddy and wet walk in the countryside back in February, these trainers are great for withstanding the muck and terrain that comes with walking off the pavement. With a cushioned ankle and moulded insole, your feet will stay supported, and you'll stay upright with an excellent grip.
Pros: Good for rainy country walks
Cons: Not that flexible
9. Women's Bondi 7
While on the expensive side, these trainers are definitely worth it. With thousands of raving reviews, they come in a variety of stylish designs and are suited for wide feet. In a plush cushioned sole, these vegan-friendly trainers are some of the best you can buy.
Pros: Selection of colours, wide and regular fit and a popular choice
Cons: Back heel doesn't have as much structure.
10. Walk Ultra 7.0 DMX MAX Shoes
These white walking trainers from Reebok are designed to adapt to you, with a supportive fit and cushioning for protection. As well as being perfect for walks, they're a great all-round stylish trainer that wouldn't look out of place with most outfits. A definite must-have.
Pros: Personalisable and nice design
Cons: Size runs small
11. Skechers Arch Fit – Big Appeal
These comfy, casual walking trainers have a removable Arch Fit cushioning insole system with podiatrist-certified arch support. This has been specifically designed to help distribute pressure across the arch, and provide stability, balance and support.
Pros: Selection of colours and podiatrist-certified arch support
Cons: Could do with more cushion
Related: 8 of the best canal walks in the UK
Finding the right fit for your walking trainers
We're often taught that we need to break our shoes in or give them some wear before they fit properly. While it is best to initially wear new shoes for short periods to test for any rubbing or pressure point, a correctly fitting shoe will feel right from the start.
Make sure to try shoes before you buy/throw out the receipt and find the ones that fit perfectly right for you.
To make sure you don't run into any problems, avoid trainers that:
• Have a thin, hard sole: you need cushioning for comfort and to support your foot
• A shoe made of plastic or rubber that doesn’t offer any breathability: this will cause discomfort and will retain any sweat
• A heel that is too high: this will push your toes to the end of your shoe and cause discomfort as your trek
• A very soft, flexible trainer: while some casual trainers can be made super easy to bend and pack for travel, they offer limited support for the foot.
When trying on new trainers, test them in the afternoon as your feet may have swollen over the course of the day.
Over the years, our feet naturally change shape and size so it might take some trial and error to find the right fit - it'll be worth it in the end!
Have you really upped your walking activity? Then how about setting yourself the challenge of Walk1000Miles. Run by our friends at Country Walking magazine, it's a great way to get out and about in the countryside, make friends, lose weight and most of all have fun!