Exercise shoes focus attention on walking

Mon Sep 6, 2010 6:06am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Call them toners, shapers, or rocker bottoms, those exercise shoes with the distinctive thick, rounded soles are flying off the shelves and onto the feet of even the most clodhopper-averse walkers.

And if experts differ on how effectively the shoes will buff butts and carve calves, they concur that whatever gets you moving is a good thing.

"I tell people to make your bottom half your better half," said Denise Austin, a fitness expert and spokesperson for Skechers Shape-ups. "They make you feel like you're walking on sand."

Toning shoes use curved soles and extra padding to alter the wearer's walking gait, purportedly engaging seldom-used muscles, increasing blood flow and reducing stress to the lower back.

"The second you put them on you think 'good posture'," Austin said "They make you more aware than regular shoes."

She said letters she's received from nurses and others on their feet all day praise them for their comfort.

As for exercise: "I feel it in the butt and the back of my thighs. And if a couple of more calories get burned each time you're out there, why not?"

Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) said the instability built into toner shoes is purported to increase the workout, much like an exercise ball works the core by keeping it off balance.   Continued...