A Guide to the Health Benefits of Walking


Shoes we use to get around everyday are, in a word, fundamental. Footwear is the structure that helps propel us in space from point A to point B; movement is the foundation of self-agency. And yet, the impact of shoes on our health remains criminally overlooked by many. It’s time to take more conscious care of ourselves through our footwear.

Vital links between shoes and your walking and physical health

Shoes we use to get around everyday are, in a word, fundamental. Footwear is the structure that helps propel us in space from point A to point B; movement is the foundation of self-agency. And yet, the impact of shoes on our health remains criminally overlooked by many. It’s time to take more conscious care of ourselves through our footwear.

How Does Walking Impact Your Health?

Walking is a surprisingly complex mechanism. There’s so much that goes into each step. Whether for exercise, commuting, or just walking whatever amount fits your lifestyle, the impact that walking has on physical health cannot be understated.

Sure, you may not need the best shoes to get around. At least, it may seem that way at first. However, if you’ve ever been caught on a hike or long walk with inadequate shoes, you’ve likely felt some serious discomfort or pain. Unsupportive, poor-fitting or structurally unsound footwear may be functional in the short term, but it can lead to health problems that manifest over longer periods. Don’t walk through life with the wrong shoes.

The average person walks 75,000 miles in their lifetime. Footwear should look and feel good, supporting your feet as you move. The right shoe will cushion your feet from the elements, absorb shock, provide arch support, and align your balance whenever you take a step. Constant support and structure are essential. Shoes that don’t provide adequate support can do more than cause temporary pain—they may harm your back, feet, knees, neck, hips, and mobility, especially as you age. If there’s an item you deserve to invest in, it’s your shoes. There are very few items that are as fundamental.

Walking is something we might take for granted, but the act of taking a step is a synthesis of many bodily functions; when we walk, our bodies balance neurological inputs with motor function, muscular and skeletal strength, and respiratory and cardiovascular fitness. Over time, healthy walking increases wellness levels in these areas, decreasing the likelihood of developing heart disease. Research even shows that the manner in which we walk is a major indicator of our overall health and wellness. Quality, supportive footwear provides our bodies with the best foundation for the future.

Mobility: The Sixth Vital Sign

Mobility is part of what makes us human, just like our five other vital signs: respiration, blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and pain. Mobility–our ability to traverse long distances–differentiates us in the evolutionary chain: humanity’s closest relatives never took to two legs like we did. Today, they still spend most of their time in trees or on four legs. We invested in walking then, and we can see how it paid off now.

From our work lives to exercise, entertainment, and traveling, walking is vital. A 2022 study from the New Scientist finds that cities around the world record lower obesity and diabetes in their populations compared to suburbs partially due to the higher rate of walking. Since walking is so essential to overall wellness, how can we optimize our daily routine?

The available information about walking health is surprisingly sparse. We’ve all heard about the importance of taking 10,000 steps a day, but part of the problem with the 10,000-step mantra is that most people aren’t motivated or don’t have the time to consistently achieve this mark. Ten thousand steps are equivalent to about five miles, which can be hard to fit into busy schedules. But even when we have the opportunity to integrate walking into daily routines, most Americans fall short. The CDC reports that less than one percent of Americans walk to places of work or school within three-to-four miles of home. Considering how important walking is to overall health, it’s time we make it more of a priority.

The key is helping you understand your walking DNA.

Not all steps are created equal, which is another problem with the 10,000-step figure. Clinical and Educational Practitioner Dr. Christopher Proulx asserts that there are several commonly overlooked components of a quality step: stride length, level of vigor, height, weight, and age are all essential in determining overall walking fitness. 

Choosing a Smart Shoe

Wearable Technology in Shoes

Just as smartphones have empowered entire generations, smart shoes will change the way we understand our personal physiology. The healthcare system often treats major injuries or diseases as they happen, but the diagnostic information and walking biometrics from wearable technology like that found in innovative new shoe brands can reveal some health concerns before they evolve into bigger problems

Dr. Proulx’s findings have informed the types of personalized biometrics that augments shoes can monitor. Armed with this type of personalized information, consumers can set, work towards, and achieve goals, all while learning how to process changes they may experience in their walking health. This type of technology has the capability to alert someone when their walking patterns change significantly in a short amount of time, which not only reveals insights about their current level of mobility but could be an indicator of potential issues in the future. 

Walking is a personal experience for everyone, and technology that educates you on your personal walking style can elevate that experience. Next time you go on a walk, make sure your shoes reflect that. 


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