Toning Footwear: Fact or Fiction?

   By drodriguez  Oct 20, 2010

If you think staying healthy and fit takes more work than simply wearing a new pair of sneakers you are probably right.  We have all heard the claims of some of the new footwear on the market that will supposedly help tone your buttocks and thighs just by wearing them while you go about your daily activities.  You may have even heard a friend or two swear they feel the burn and soreness that comes along with a vigorous exercise after wearing these shoes.  But could this really be true?

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin aren’t buying it.  A recent article from Time magazine discusses the researchers findings on the footwear.  The team of researchers from the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin chose three brands of sneakers that made claims of burning calories and toning muscles.  The researchers also used a regular running shoe as the control shoe.  

What they found was that when women from the study worked out there was absolutely no difference in heart rate, oxygen consumption, or calories burned whether they were wearing a regular running shoe or one of the “enhanced” fitness shoes.  The study also found that the women experienced no differences in the perceived difficulty they were feeling during their workouts.

But there may be a reason why so many people claim they feel sore, as though they have gotten a workout, after wearing these shoes.  Researchers believe this has to do with the sole of the shoes making the wearer feel slightly off-balance.  Lead researcher, John Porcari, describes the effect the off-balance feeling may be giving people.  Porcari says, “If I put a rock in your shoe, you’re going to walk differently and you’ll use different muscles and you’ll be sore but after a while your body is going to get accustomed to it.”  If anything, the shoe may be improving your balance but no study has been done on this aspect yet.

On the plus side, even if the shoes themselves don’t work it seems people who purchase them are walking more - perhaps to test if the shoe will do what it says.  Whatever the reason, if it gets people out and walking they will be doing all the toning and calorie burning regardless of their footwear choice.  

What do you think of the sneakers that claim to tone and tighten?

Would you give these shoes a try with the current research reporting they don’t actually work?

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Willansmom by Willansmom | Baton Rouge, LA
Mar 02, 2011

When I wear these to the grocery store I FEEL them. Much different when I wear my regular tennis shoes. I want to try the sandles next.

debbwalk by debbwalk | WHITE PLAINS, NY
Dec 25, 2010

I own a pair of Reebok EasyTones, and I have to say that they were uncomfortably for my feet. It gives you a rocky motion when you walk, which i guess could make you use different muscle groups, but over all, they caused me to start to get bunions! I couldn't take it.So I don't really think that they do much of anything, really.. except get people to hope in a quick fix!

towens84 by towens84 | Houston, TX
Dec 01, 2010

I would try them for myself. After reading the posts doesn't seem like the best idea, but I'd rather find out on my own. I've been having back pain also, if they can help my aching back it won't be a waste!

yamagirl by yamagirl | POWDER SPGS, GA
Nov 21, 2010

I have never tried these on. I thought about it, but they are not good looking at all. I remember the saying my mom used to tell me. If it's to good to be true, it must not be true

jennipiccalo by jennipiccalo | Huntley, IL
Nov 15, 2010

I have the sketchers shape ups and I also suffer from SI joint problems (which I was being treated for by a chiropractor for years). Since wearing the shoes my SI problems have almost completely gone away and I do believe I feel a difference in my legs and glutes.

SteffieJr by SteffieJr | Longwood, FL
Nov 14, 2010

The Sketcher shoes are not a good idea if you aren't coordinated. I tried a pair on and about fell over from walking in them, they feel weird and just aren't right in my opinion. Instead, I opted for a pair of Reebok Easy Tone's, which look just like a normal sneaker, and are less awkward to walk in. I will tell you that when I started wearing them, you can definitely feel the burn in your calves. I also bought the flip flops too which are highly comfortable. Try them on at a Lady's Foot Locker to see for yourself which toning shoe would be the best fit for you, and then you can usually find a better deal online for them.

sashaa49 by sashaa49 | oceanside, CA
Nov 14, 2010

i see the comercials and actually tried some on it feels weird especially the running runs but they are so comfortable i really wanna see how they will affect my work out as a runner and the results i hear good things the only thing is to fork out the $$ to try it because they are expensive

Aspiringauthor09 by Aspiringauthor09 | LAKEVILLE, PA
Nov 07, 2010

I bought a pair of Tone-Ups flip-flops this summer. They didn't really work, and instead gave me CALOUSES!!! I was constantly tripping and walking unsteadily, almost like a drunk, in these shoes. I would definietly not wear them again.

musicmomma by musicmomma | LONG VALLEY, NJ
Nov 02, 2010

After reading many of your comments...I would stay away from these as well. I have had a number of ankle injuries and would hate to risk the chance of having another one by wearing a pair of these shoes. THEY are so expensive too!!!

MamaFred by MamaFred | Ridgeland, SC
Nov 02, 2010

I have had five knee operations during my teen years because I was an overactive kid : ) Now in my early forties, i am very choosy of which shoes I wear. I must say, these toning sneakers do take the pressure off my knee and I am much more comfortable. However, they take a little getting familiar with because they "rock" and you may find yourself falling backward if you are not careful. They are for walking and wearing normally....not playing basketball : ) Also, I purchased the Dr. Scholl's version at SEARS, with the gel insert, and it was $25 well spent. As for looking, not......

Suzyque by Suzyque | LITCHFIELD PK, AZ
Oct 28, 2010

I have the curve sandals that I had gotten from the Avon store and I love them. I stand straighter my back and knees don't hurt when I wear them. They cost me all of $30 and they have tighten my butt. I walk / run 5 miles a day and no pain. I even had my Mom who is 5 '2 and is very over weight she loves them and wears them everyday. She started to feel good wearing them that she now is working out more. So for me and my Mom we like the shoes.

fishersonia by fishersonia | TEMECULA, CA
Oct 28, 2010

I think this is crazy. They just look silly too! It is almost saying..."I am a sucker....I can prove it , look at my silly shoes that I paid way to much for." Lots of shoes help with back support and knee/foot pain, plus, you don't have to look silly.

noritaarf by noritaarf | Tulsa, OK
Oct 27, 2010

I wear these shoes to run 4-7 miles, 5 times a week. I also walk 4 miles every afternoon. I have had knee problems for years, and the extra cushion in these shoes takes the impact out of running. I love them. I'm not sure if I can say the name of the store that I buy mine at, but I bought a pair a week or so ago, 79.99 on sale, used 30% off code and got back $10 "come back" cash, so cheaper than the $140 running shoes my doc recommended. I don't think my butt is any more toned, but my joints are much much happier!

momagarry by momagarry | MILWAUKEE, WI
Oct 27, 2010

I figured this did not work.

PictureGirl by PictureGirl | FREDERICKSBRG, VA
Oct 27, 2010

Great Posts!! I am so glad I read them. I have been eyeing them for my mom. She complains of back pain after a long day at work. She has recently started a walking program with some of her co-workers at lunch. I think I will fork over the money. Skip telling her the part about them not working on the toning issue... and hope her back will feel better, she will be inspired to walk and the toning will just be a by-product of the better back and being inspired!!