Exercising in worn out athletic shoes increases the stress on your joints, which could lead to overuse injuries. Use this buying guide to determine when you need a new pair, and how to get the best fitting shoe for comfort and performance.
When to Buy a New Pair
The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends that athletic shoes be replaced every 350 to 550 miles. This is a wide range because of the many factors that influence the lifespan of the shoe. Body weight, how your foot strikes the ground, and your exercise surface (treadmill, trail, or pavement) all play a role in how quickly your shoes wear down. Any changes in foot, knee, or back pain, or visible wearing on the soles of the shoes, are signs that you need a new pair.
Assess Your Foot Type
Before buying new shoes it’s important to know your foot type. Look at an old pair of shoes and take note of the worn areas of the sole. Next, perform the “Wet Test”. Simply wet the bottom of your bare foot with water and then step on a surface that will show a footprint such as dry concrete or a flattened brown paper bag. The patterns of wear on your shoes and the Wet Test assess pronation. There are 3 basic types of pronation.
Your shoes will show wear on the outside of the foot at the heel and forefoot.
Wet Test: On your footprint you will see your toes, forefoot, far outside of the foot, and heel. There will be no imprint of water at the arch.
Supinated is also called underpronated.
Look for shoes with extra cushioning to assist with shock absorption.
Your shoes will wear on the inside of the forefoot.
Wet Test: You will see almost a full footprint depending on how severe your overpronation.
A stability or motion control shoe will give you the support you need in the foot and ankle.
Avoid shoes with extra cushioning and those that are highly curved. These shoes will not give you enough stability.
The wear on your shoe will be evenly distributed over the sole.
Wet Test: Your footprint falls somewhere between supinated and overpronated. You will not have a full footprint, but more of your arch will come into contact with the paper than in the footprint of a person who is supinated.
This is the ideal level of pronation.
There are many neutral shoes available, but avoid motion control and stability varieties as they may reduce your mobility.
Get the Right Shoe for Your Activity
Cross trainers are ideal if you do a wide variety of activities. If you perform a specific type of exercise 2 to 3 times a week, buy a sports-specific shoe. Walking shoes have flexible soles and support the natural movement of the exercise. Running shoes have more cushioning to provide better shock absorption. Trail shoes provide better traction for rough terrain. Consider your exercise environment when buying shoes. More mesh allows for better air movement and cooling. Some shoes have more reflective areas making them better for nighttime exercise.
Find the Right Fit
When shopping, you can tell a lot about a shoe by picking it up for a closer look. Mark Fenton, walking expert and former host of PBS’s "America's Walking", suggests that you twist, bend, and poke shoes before buying. A walking shoe should bend in the forefoot while a running shoe bends more towards the arch. When the shoes are placed on a flat surface, the toe of the shoe should rock forward when you press on it. Press the heel and it should rock slightly back.
When trying on shoes, pay special attention to the heel and the toe area (called the toe box). You should have about the length of a thumbnail between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. A toe box that allows your toes to move will help prevent pain and cramping in the foot. The heel should fit firmly, yet comfortably, and it should not slip.
Buy your shoes late in the day or within an hour of exercising to accommodate for foot swelling. Wear the socks that you will be wearing during exercise. Most importantly, don't buy shoes that are uncomfortable in hopes of breaking them in. They should be comfortable the first time you wear them.
Information about the role of exercise in weight loss is readily available, but few sources address what this means for those who are obese. If you get out of breath walking from the car to the front door, even the smallest amount of exercise can be overwhelming.
Where do I start?
You simply start at the beginning. Everyone has a different beginning and your only task is to identify yours. Start moving little by little, pushing a bit more each day. It's easy to fear the unknown and imagine the task of exercise as complicated and difficult, but there is no secret to exercise. Our bodies are designed to move. Involve your doctor in this process. He or she will know your health history and can tell you what may or may not be good for you at this stage in the process.
If you often sit for hours at a time, start by standing for 5 minutes every hour. Walk down the hallway and back. Once your body gets used to this amount of walking, increase the distance. You might also try 5-10 overhead arm-raises every hour. Any activity above what you're currently doing is an improvement and a step in the right direction.
How do I progress?
The key is to progress slowly by adding a bit more activity as you build up your fitness level. For example, when you feel stronger, add small hand weights (soup cans do the trick) while you do your overhead arm-raises. As your endurance increases, begin incorporating two 10-to-15 minute walks a day around the block. By gradually increasing your activity level, you can avoid injury while improving your health and losing weight.
What if I get discouraged?
Don't let the exercise fanatics of the world intimidate you! You are a beginner. Everyone starts somewhere. Start at your personal beginning and stay with it. You will be more fit tomorrow than you are today. Don't let your long term goals overwhelm you. Take one day at time, and if that's too much, take one hour at time. You'll be amazed at how quickly your body will respond to the training and how much healthier you will feel in a short time.
MyFoodDiary is designed to help you set attainable goals and focus on the importance of each day. If you string together one good day after another, you will reach your goals!
The number on the scale is not the only thing that will change after adopting healthier habits. Below is a list of 10 positive changes that reflect the benefits of weight loss.
Improved mood and attitude. Research shows that losing weight can improve your mood and decrease symptoms of depression. Better nutrition, higher self-esteem, and the benefits of exercise all contribute to an improved outlook on life.
Breathing easy. When you carry excess weight, your body must work harder. Walking and household chores may have quickly left you out of breath in the past. As your cardiovascular system becomes conditioned through regular exercise and your body weight decreases, fewer of your normal activities will leave you breathless.
Your piggy bank is full. Weight loss can save you money. Cutting out expensive, high-calorie coffee drinks and afternoon visits to the vending machine result in extra financial savings. Clothing will cost you less as you move away from plus sizes. Your health care costs can be dramatically reduced due to a strengthened immune system and a decreased risk of disease, which results in fewer treatments and medications.
Less jiggle in your middle (and everywhere else). Your body can become more toned and smaller without the numbers ever changing on the scale. You may notice there is now firm muscle where soft fat tissue used to be. Pay attention to how your clothing fits. You may need to tighten a notch in your belt before you see drastic weight loss in numbers.
Healthier body fat percentage. As you lose weight and gain muscle, your body fat percentage will decrease. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a body fat percentage of 10-22% for men and 20-32% for women for a reduced risk of obesity-related disease. Have your body fat accessed by a fitness or health professional to determine if you are within a healthy range, and reassess in three to six months as you lose weight and gain muscle.
Slimming circumference. According to the National Institutes of Health, waist circumference is a key indicator for health risk. Waist circumferences should not exceed 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women. Measure your waist circumference every few weeks to track your progress, but don’t stop there. Measure your thighs, upper arms, and chest as well. The circumference of these areas will decrease as you lose weight, and become more toned with muscle.
Canceled cravings. As you make eating healthier foods a habit, your tastes will change. Yes, you will always have a favorite indulgence, but over time you will become more selective on where you save and where you splurge calories. For example, you may splurge on chips or fries and not like how you feel afterward, which will reduce the likelihood that those cravings will creep up again.
You keep going and going. Not only does exercise give you energy to face your day-to-day life, but you will begin to notice your current routine getting easier and easier. This is because your body is becoming accustomed to the activity, and it needs to be challenged once again. Over time, you’ll find that you can exercise for longer periods and at higher intensity levels.
Positively painless. Extra weight adds stress to the lower back and knees that can result in pain. As the weight comes off, so does the stress on these parts of your body. You will notice that you can do more with less pain.
Sleeping like a baby. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep problems are common in overweight and obese adults. Research has shown that even as little as a 10% reduction in weight can improve sleep apnea in obese individuals. In addition, regular exercise improves sleep quality when performed at least three hours before bedtime. As you exercise more and lose weight, you will sleep better, and feel rested and energized in the morning.
MyFoodDiary can help you achieve these wonderful benefits and much more.
Everyone needs a vacation (even if it means the occasional high-calorie treat or missed workout). The problem arises when these splurges go from occasional to common. Tight schedules, limited options, and unfamiliar territory make it easy for travel to derail your fitness routine. Take control and plan ahead using the following tips:
Dress accordingly. Exercise opportunities on the road won’t do you much good if you are not prepared. If your business attire doesn’t allow for athletic footwear, invest in a comfortable pair of dressy shoes. Rubber-soled dress shoes or a stylish pair of flats can make all of the difference. At the very least, carry your athletic shoes in your carry-on. Stick with a comfortable, yet presentable, outfit so you can walk the terminals during a layover. The same preparation tips stand for road trips. A quick walk around the parking lot at the rest stop will stretch the legs and burn a few calories.
Make space for exercise essentials. Be sure you leave space to squeeze in fitness essentials. An exercise band or tube will fit in the outside pocket of your bag for hotel-room strength training. Consider a pair of tennis shoes specifically for travel that will smash or bend for easy packing. Fill a baggie with mixed nuts and dried fruit, energy bars, and fresh fruit for emergency snacks to make unhealthy options less tempting.
Use airport time wisely. Fitting in exercise during long layovers is getting easier. San Francisco International Airport has a yoga room, and other airports such as Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have well-marked walking paths designated throughout terminals. Fitness centers located in hotels within or near airports often offer day rates for travelers.
Carefully weigh your food options. Convenience stores and gas stations may be the easiest place to stop while on the road, but they can be a nightmare for a healthy eating plan. Instead, visit the nearest roadside farm stand, or follow the signs to the Farmer’s Market where you can find fresh produce to provide healthy fuel. For meals, skip the fast food and stop by a supermarket for a prepared salad or healthy sandwich.
Explore local markets on foot. Visiting a market during your travels combines a learning opportunity, exercise, and healthy food into one adventure. Set out on foot if the market is nearby – every extra step counts. Take advantage of the fresh produce, and meals for a healthy breakfast, lunch, or snack.
Book an active excursion. Make a natural attraction part of your itinerary (where you are sure to do some hiking). Check for a Yellow Bike project in the city you visit. This will allow you to borrow a bike to see the sights while burning calories. If you enjoy road races, look for upcoming events at your destination. Local fitness studios may have active weekend retreats, or a boot camp class that you can join during your trip.
Use technology to your advantage. Online fitness classes can be found all over the Internet, and they provide a solution for exercise when you are confined to a hotel room. Use your laptop or tablet to stream an in-room workout. Before you leave for your trip, load your smartphone with exercise apps. Many apps provide strength-training moves, or yoga poses to do in the hotel when you are short on time and ideas. Log your foods and exercise with MyFoodDiary's mobile apps.
Get enough rest. Travel can leave you sleep-deprived and unable to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep for adults. Lack of sleep can result in weight gain. When you are exhausted from being on the road, make sleep a priority. Continue to choose healthy foods, but it may be wise to skip a workout when your schedule causes exercise to compete with sleep. Plan to get back to your exercise routine once you return home. But remember, exercise can improve sleep patterns if done at least three hours before bedtime. If you are having trouble sleeping on the road, a workout may help.
Workout partners serve as a source of motivation and accountability, but they can also get us off track. Follow these tips to keep both of you on the path to fitness.
1. Don't take no for an answer.
Create a Valid Excuse Policy, which is a list of acceptable reasons for why you or your partner cannot exercise. A sick child that has to stay home a day or two is a valid excuse. You feeling down or tired isn't.
2. Do stay positive.
Exercise with a partner is as much about the conversation as the workout, but research conducted by Amanda Rose, an associate professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, found that talking about your frustrations is only helpful in moderation. When we complain about our problems endlessly, it can make us feel worse. If your workout buddy insists on talking about problems, guide your conversation to more positive topics.
3. Don't judge.
According to Michael Rozen, MD, of Cleveland Clinic, a workout partner should be like the GPS navigational system in a car: it guides without judgment. If your workout partner misses a workout or confesses to indulging in a pint of ice cream, don't criticize her. Simply suggest she make a U-turn immediately, and get back on the road to a healthy lifestyle.
4. Don't sugarcoat.
Leadership development coach, Dr. Judith Rich, states that what we fear most about honesty is that other people will be hurt by our words or will not like us. Regardless of these worries, avoiding the truth will not do your partner any favors. If he is headed down the path of a sedentary lifestyle or overtraining, offer to help and express your concern in a non-judgmental way (see #3).
5. Do support healthy eating.
Exercise is only one part of the fitness equation. You don't have to skip your long talks in the coffee shop after your walk, but keep it healthy. If you notice that your post-workout meetings are beginning to resemble a full breakfast buffet, it's time to suggest that you both get back on track.
6. Don't cancel if your buddy can't make it.
Don't let a partner's cancellation be your excuse for not exercising. The American Academy of Family Physicians lists sticking to a regular time as a key to making exercise a habit. There is no reason you can't stick to the plan even if your partner can't. If you keep your commitment, your partner will likely do the same when an unexpected event forces you to cancel in the future. Your choice to exercise alone can provide motivation for her later.
7. Do celebrate.
When it comes to weight loss or fitness achievements, no one will know how hard you worked to achieve it better than your workout partner. Take time to celebrate when you reach your goals, then sit down and map out the next milestone you will work toward together.