Walking Products I Don't Recommend

Toning Shoe
Toning Shoe. Wendy Bumgardner (c) 2006

Some products are marketed to walkers but I cannot recommend them, for one of two reasons. First, the product may make claims that have not been supported by properly designed studies. Second, they may be products that increase the risk of injury or strain if used by fitness walkers to walk for 30 minutes or more.

Toning Shoes

Toning shoes promise to tone your buns and help you burn more calories as you walk around all day.

These claims were not verified in a study by exercise expert John Pocari. Company after company reached settlements over health claims allegedly made in their ads in 2011-2014. These include Skechers Shape-Ups, Reebok RunTone and EasyTone shoes, New Balance TrueBalance and Rock&Tone shoes, and Vibram FiveFingers shoes.

Many walkers love toning shoes, while others report aches and injuries they attribute to the shoes. While I like a few of the designs, most are not worth the extra money. If you decide to give them a try, research the store or online vendor and make sure they have a great return policy so you can exchange them or get a refund if they don't work well for you.

Weighted Shoes

Several companies have come out with weighted shoes with the benefit being that you burn more calories per mile walking in very heavy shoes. I have consulted with several physical therapists and walking coaches and all say the same thing - that such shoes when used for fitness walking would likely increase the risk of muscle strain and injury.

It is not natural to have very heavy feet. Wearing them around the house or office might increase your calories burned. However, I find that wearing heavy shoes makes me want to take fewer steps and to not walk as much. Rather than wearing heavy shoes, just walk a couple minutes longer to get the same calorie burn with less risk, or use fitness walking poles to burn more calories in the same time.

Better Choice - Walking Poles: Fitness walking poles are a superior alternative to make you burn more calories per mile while working out your upper body and taking some of the strain off your knees, hips and ankles.

Ankle Weights

The same caution applies to ankle weights as to heavy shoes. It is not a natural place to add weight to your body, so you increase the risk of strain to your hips, knees, and leg muscles. Leave them at home and just walk a couple of extra minutes to burn those calories, or use fitness walking poles.

Arm Weights

Some "powerwalkers" carry handweights and use lots of arm motion when walking. This is supposed to tone the upper body and to burn more calories. But fitness walkers are walking for 30 minutes or more, and with the increasing time the weights may lead to repetitive-strain injuries to the elbows, wrist, and shoulders. The weights can also easily throw off your posture, leading to backache and neckache.

To tone the arms, it is better to spend 5 minutes three times a week doing a simple upper body routine rather than trying to do it while walking.


The science just isn't there to show that magnets have benefits for any condition, let alone being the cure-all that their proponents claim they are. Buying lots of expensive magnets for all of your aches is unlikely to be of any benefit beyond the placebo effect and enriching your magnet salesperson.

Fat-Burning Supplements

Given that 2/3 of all Americans are overweight and would LOVE to just pop a pill to get lean, don't you think if these really worked they would be sold by a major drug company as if they were Viagra? I would invest and be rich. No, these don't work as claimed. If they contain stimulants such as ephedrine, ephedra or ma huang they may even be dangerous and banned in some countries. At best you may get a caffeine-like buzz. At worst you could die.

Better Choice - Walking! There IS a real miracle-cure that burns fat and reduces your risks of major diseases - your walking shoes.


Miyazaki Yoshinori, Yamada Nobuyuki. "Effects of Walking Program with Light-weighted Shoes in Middle and High-aged Women" Descente Sports Science. VOL.24;NO.;PAGE.153-161(2003).

MA Caselli, N Clark, S Lazarus, Z Velez and L Venegas, "Evaluation of magnetic foil and PPT Insoles in the treatment of heel pain" Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, Vol 87, Issue 1 11-16.

Porcari JP, Hendrickson TL, Walter PR, Terry L, Walsko G. "The physiological responses to walking with and without Power Poles on treadmill exercise." Res Q Exerc Sport. 1997 Jun;68(2):161-6.

L. Alford. "What men should know about the impact of physical activity on their health" International Journal of Clinical Practice. Volume 64, Issue 13, pages 1731–1734, December 2010.

Reebok to Pay $25 Million in Customer Refunds To Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising of EasyTone and RunTone Shoes. 9/28/2011. Federal Trade Commission press release. Accessed 10/4/2011.

Skechers Will Pay $40 Million to Settle FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers with Ads for "Toning Shoes" 5/16/12 . Federal Trade Commission press release. Accessed 5/16/12.

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