8 Worst Gift Ideas for Walkers

If you want to give a gift to a friend who is a fitness walker, these are items to avoid. They may seem like a good idea at first, but there are reasons why they may be bad for fitness walkers, or even insulting.

Shirts with Running Slogans

Running Shirt
Running Isn't Walking. Wendy Bumgardner ©

Walkers are not wannabee runners. We walk. It's different. Many of us are perfectly happy walking and have no desire to run. Don't give us shirts that talk about running. Go the extra mile and find an item that celebrates walking instead. Companies such as OneMoreMile have styles with fun sayings that don't spell out running, or are specific for walkers.
Walking Shirts - Buy Direct

A Freebie Pedometer

Freebie Pedometer
Craig Veltri/E+/Getty

If you got a free pedometer at work or at a fitness fair, chances are it is worth what you paid for it. The giveaway pedometers use a mechanism that can quickly become inaccurate. They may also already have an aging battery that will go dead soon after use. If your walking friend needs a pedometer, spend the $20-$35 to get a good, accurate 3-axis pedometer. A good pedometer will encourage them to walk more. A bad one is just headed for a landfill.
Bad Pedometers Can Harm Fitness Efforts

"Walking" Shoes

Comfort Shoes: SAS and Etonic
Comfort Shoes: SAS and Etonic. Wendy Bumgardner (c) 2005

The right shoes are a very individual thing. Even if the giver knows the walker's shoe size and width, they may still give a gift of shoes that are too stiff, too clunky, and don't have the right motion control elements (or not) to suit the recipient's gait. Many of the shoes labeled as walking shoes aren't well-suited for fitness walking. They may be great for standing around in, but then again they may not fit right and require a second or third trip for exchanges. It is far better to give a gift certificate for the best running shoe store in your area, or for one of the online running shoe specialists.
How to Buy Fitness Walking Shoes

A Pedicure Before Their Marathon or Half Marathon

Polished Toenails in Sandals
Wendy Bumgardner ©

Walkers have to toughen their feet to get through a long distance event without blisters. They need a certain amount of calluses. A day at the spa is a wonderful gift, but save the pedicure and callus removal for after their long distance walk. Instead, you can give them a foot pampering kit that includes a deep moisturizer to keep the calluses pliable, and a foot spa for soaking the feet after a long training day. Epsom salts in the foot bath can help refresh the feet and reduce hot spots and blisters.
Relaxation and Recovery Items for Walkers

Cotton Socks

White Cotton Socks

Great walking socks are great stocking stuffers. But old-school padded cotton tube socks are a bad idea for walkers. They soak up sweat and don't fit in the right places, setting up the walker for foot blisters. Walkers need socks made of sweat-wicking fibers and anatomically fitted to the shape of their feet. Gift givers can find these at serious running shoe stores or online. Don't be tempted by 10 pairs for $10 of the cotton socks. Look for brands such as Smartwool, Thorlo, WrightSock. Shop for great socks with fun designs (but not ones that say Running, please!)
Before You Buy Walking Socks

Infomercial Insoles

WalkFit Insoles
WalkFit Insoles. © Wendy Bumgardner

You still can't decide what to give your walker. Your TV is on in the wee hours and you catch an infomercial touting the wondrous benefits of some insoles. They can alleviate heel pain! Cure the lame! End back pain! Aha, you think, my walking friend could use these to walk further, faster, and with less fatigue! How wonderful that this magical cure is available at such a low cost! Think again. First, insoles are a pretty boring stocking stuffer even if they do work well. Second, "your mileage may vary." It is unlikely that they will feel the benefits of the most glowing testimonials given. Save your money for a gift that will be more appreciated.
Shoe Inserts and Orthotics
Review of WalkFit Insoles

Ankle or Wrist Weights

Ankle Weights
Ankle Weights. Wendy Bumgardner ©

If our bodies were designed to handle more weight at the foot, ankle, or wrist, that's where our beer bellies would grow. No, our shoulders, elbows, neck, wrists, knees and ankles prefer not to have extra weight at the end of our limbs. If you stick a weight there, you are really asking to develop a repetitive strain injury. No matter how great the infomercial looks, don't buy ankle or wrist weights for your walking friends. A better gift is a set of dumbbells and instructions for how to use them for a good, properly positioned upper body workout after their walk. If additional calorie burn is the goal, then a set of fitness walking poles can provide that without the risk of repetitive strain.
Before You Buy Walking Weights

A Big Box of Chocolates

Box of Chocolates
Creative Crop/Digital Vision/Getty

Many walkers use fitness walking as a weight control method. Friends and family can (perhaps unconsciously) sabotage their efforts by giving gifts of their favorite treats. Don't be tricky with those treats. One exquisite chocolate truffle is a better gift than a large box of mediocre ones. A gift card for their favorite coffee shop would allow the walker to treat themselves after a good winter workout while still balancing their diet.
Holiday Calorie Calculator