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Find Your Solemate With 5 Easy-to-Follow Flowcharts

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Wearing the correct shoes while exercising can mean the difference between a comfortable workout and one filled with pain or injury. But with thousands of workout shoes on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? Use the questions in following five guides to narrow down your options and find your perfect "solemate."

Start by choosing your primary activity from the list below:


While it can be tempting to shop for the biggest bargain at your local department store, investing in a quality running shoe is money well spent. Wearing poor quality shoes that don’t fit your unique anatomy and training goals can result in problems down the line. A good running shoe will offer the right amount of cushion, flexibility and breathability, but what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

In order to determine the right running shoe, it helps to know a little bit about your foot type (low, normal or high arch) as well as your pronation, or how much the foot rolls in or out when it makes contact with the ground. Most specialty running stores offer a free analysis of your foot and gait to help you find the best shoe for you. 



Purchasing a quality walking shoe is a smart investment if walking is your preferred mode of exercise. Although some running shoes can be used for walking, the inverse isn't usually true. Walking shoes are more flexible through the ball of the foot to allow a greater range of motion through the roll of the forefoot. They also have greater arch support to protect where the force is heaviest on the foot. The type of walking shoe you need will depend on a number of factors, including your foot and the typical walking terrain.

Aerobics/Cross-Training/Team Sports

Cross-trainers or aerobic shoes are suitable for a variety of activities other than walking or running. They are also an option if you participate in many different kinds of activities without a primary mode of exercise dominating your workout schedule. If variety is the key to your exercise routine, cross-trainers might be better (and less expensive) than buying a number of activity-specific shoes. Cross-trainers tend to have a wider outsole, additional support for the heels and legs and lateral support all over, which is important for the side-to-side motion of activities like aerobics classes and certain sports.  

If you do participate frequently in a specific sport like basketball or tennis, it's worth investing in a shoe designed for the sport and the surface on which you'll be playing. You can even find shoes for aquatic activities such as water aerobics that help increase the force of buoyancy in the water and also help protect the foot from minor cuts and scrapes.


Cycling shoes have a stiffer sole that gives extra support and efficient energy transfer as you pedal away. They also protect your feet while riding and can help prevent foot cramping and fatigue more effectively than a traditional shoe. The type of bike pedal you have at home or use in the studio will also determine the kind of shoe needed. For example, platform pedals don't require a special type of footwear, but clipless pedals require special shoes that have a cleat fitted into the sole.


Weightlifting can encompass a wide variety of workouts, from a strength training video at home to a CrossFit class that incorporates Olympic powerlifting and plyometrics. The type of workouts you do will determine which kind of shoe is best.  

SparkPeople Picks: 

The staff at SparkPeople are no strangers to pounding the pavement. Which is why, when asked to name their favorite shoe, it came as no surprise that walking and running styles topped the list. 

Favorite overall running/walking shoe: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 
Runners Up: Saucony Ride, ASICS Gel-Excite 2, Nike SB Check Solarsoft Skate Shoe 

In general, if you are participating in an activity more than a few times each week, it’s a good idea to buy a shoe designed specifically for it. It can be tempting to buy the first pair of shoes you find on sale, but many times, you get what you pay for. Poor-quality shoes can lead to poor-quality results (and injury), so do your homework before deciding which shoe is right for you. Your body will thank you for it.

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FISHGUT3 10/10/2019
thanks Report
In my super-annuated state (older) I do not really need special shoes for each activity because I do not do anything with enough intensity to justify the expense. A good comfortable pair of shoes that fits right. Report
Thanks! Report
It used to be so easy:
Keds or PF Flyers?
Black or white?
High top or low top? Report
ERIN_POSCH 9/3/2019
thank you Report
USMAWIFE 8/29/2019
thank you Report
PATRICIA-CR 8/2/2019
I think this article needs to be updated year after year.
Where are HOKA shoes? Report
Great article! Report
HOLLYM48 8/2/2019
Great article! Report
CMRKSU12 8/1/2019
Good try. The only problem I can see, I usually walk and on a paved trail, but the article doesn't take into account a wide foot. Not all shoes come in wide. I have to look a lot for wishes! I usually go to Kohls for my shoes because they have a great selection of comfortable shoes in wide. Report
It doesn't matter what I do, I have to get shoes that both fit my feet and which I can afford. I have high arches and wide duck feet--or wide ball of foot and normal heel. I buy Skechers D'lites. They meet both my requirements. I have also occaisonally bought Asics or the cheaper styles of Saucony. It's just easier to buy Skechers. Report
FRAN0426 8/1/2019
I have very narrow heels, so sometimes it takes awhile to find any type of shoe to be comfortable. Report
USMAWIFE 7/28/2019
thanks Report
JIACOLO 7/14/2019
Finding a good shoe is always so hard to do with my wide foot. Report
MARVEN3 6/11/2019
Thanks for sharing,good article. Report
USMAWIFE 5/14/2019
?? Report
BONNIE1552 5/5/2019
Nice to know. Report
RAZZOOZLE 5/3/2019
thank you Report
JIACOLO 4/9/2019
I love my running and my hiking shoes! Report
MARTHASC 4/4/2019
Very helpful Report
ELRIDDICK 3/19/2019
Thanks for sharing Report
I like this article. Report
SURVIVOR919 3/9/2019
Great information. I think. Maybe? Not sure. I rarely use a computer. Which means I read this article on my smartphone. The graphics were completely illegible. And since they weren't clickable, I couldn't open them then zoom to be able to read the content. Fail. Report
RO2BENT 3/9/2019
There are so many choices Report
SXB990 3/7/2019
Brooks GTS here Report
DMEYER4 2/12/2019
great info Report
DMEYER4 2/12/2019
great info Report
KATHRYNGC 2/8/2019
I took time to go to a shoe store for expert advice. Second Sole was excellent in selecting a shoe for mr after measuring and watching walk before trying shoes then in shoes that were gathered. Went with a Brooks! Report
THINCPL2004 1/11/2019
great article
CATCHPSU 1/9/2019
This is out dated. Saucony no longer makes the Guide 7. Report
Great Report
KATHRYNGC 12/22/2018
Good timing for this article. Won a gift card to SecondSole for $100. After measuring, checking feet, and watching walk , he found me a Brothers with strong support. Happy feet! Report
ROBBIEY 12/12/2018
Really good information Report
PATRICIAANN46 11/26/2018
Thank You............ Report
USMAWIFE 11/18/2018
thanks for sharing Report
KATHYJO56 11/18/2018
very informative Report
ELRIDDICK 11/1/2018
Thanks for sharing Report
RO2BENT 10/28/2018
Good help Report
Good listing of shoes for problem feet! Report
Great article! Report
Good shoes are so important. Report
I've had Ryka and loved them till they discontinued the style I liked. Hiking boots for my narrow feet were my biggest challenge. I found Lowa Renegade boots, great quality, great fit. Walking shoes: I'm surprised Vionics wasn't listed here. Vionics Walker Classic is super supportive, very comfortable, even the heel works for me. Report
very important Report
Wrote down the suggested brands. Will check them out due to winning a Second Sole gift card. Report
thank you Report
Great information. Thanks. Report
Good info...Thx! Report
Great information! Thanks! Report
Wrote down the suggested shoes for me. Will check these out when due for new ones which probably will be soon. Thanks for article. Report
Good summary of things to consider when buying new shoes Report
Walking Guide