Can You Wear New Balance Running Shoes for Fitness Walking?

Should You Choose Only Walking Designs or Shop for Running Shoes?

New Balance 1260v5
New Balance 1260v5. Courtesy of Amazon

Walkers wonder whether New Balance running shoes are good for fitness walking. Shouldn't you wear their walking shoe models rather than their running shoe models for walking?

New Balance Running Shoes Have Good Features for Fitness Walking

Fitness walkers have been choosing New Balance running shoes for decades. It's true that not all of their designs have the features that are best for walking, but many models of their running shoes are excellent choices.

Walkers need flex in the forefoot and do not need as much heavy cushioning as is often found in comfort shoes or cushioned running shoes. But many New Balance running shoe designs are excellent for marathon walking, half marathon, 10K and training.

Why Not Choose New Balance Walking Shoe Designs?

While New Balance also produces shoes they label as walking shoes, if you walk briskly you will probably prefer their running shoes. Shoe companies generally put their best technology into their running shoe models while the walking shoes lag behind.

Often the walking shoes are not flexible enough for fitness walking, especially for longer distance. While New Balance has some athletic walking shoe designs, their running shoes are often a better choice for brisk walking. See more about the differences between running shoes and walking shoes

New Balance Shoes Features

New Balance has a full range of styles for overpronators who need motion control, neutral lightweight training shoes, stability shoes and trail shoes.

New Balance Shoe Widths: Very few athletic shoes come in widths, but New Balance has shoes in a full range of widths: x-narrow, narrow, medium, wide, x-wide, xx-wide, for men, women, and children.

New Balance Shoe Lasts: New Balance uses a variety of different lasts for its running and walking shoes.

For many years they used the SL-1 and SL-2 lasts. But they have changed things up and it is best to research which last fits your foot best, then buy shoes built on that last. The lasts differ in heel width, toebox width, toebox depth, and instep height.   Check this chart of New Balance shoe lasts.

What to Look for in New Balance Running Shoes for Fitness Walking

  1. Flexible: Walkers need shoes that can bend in the forefoot. If you are looking at a New Balance shoe at the store, remove any shape-holding inserts and see if the shoe bends or if it is stiff and inflexible.
  2. Low Heel Drop: Some running shoes have built-up heels for stability for runners who strike with the forefoot. Walkers strike with their heel, so we need a minimal heel drop. Often this will be listed in shoe features and you should look for a heel drop of 8 mm or less. Ask the shoe clerk for a low heel drop shoe.
  3. No Flared Heel: Because walkers strike with their heel, they don't want a flared heel. A slightly undercut heel is best, but hard to find on running shoes. Look for shoes with minimal heel flare.
  4. Fit: A big advantage of New Balance is that they have a full range of models and widths and you should be able to find the perfect shoe for your gait and foot shape. But to do this, you really must be fitted at a serious running shoe store. But if you are lucky enough to have a New Balance shoe store in your area, that is also a great place to shop for fitness walking shoes. The staff of those stores can give you a good assessment and fitting.

    S ee more in the walking shoe guide about how to choose the right shoes and lists of the top shoes for each category.

    Top Picks for Walking Shoes

    New Balance running shoe designs are featured in each of the categories.

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