Walking is a great form of low impact, low-intensity exercise for seniors. Walking doesn’t require any special equipment but a pair of comfortable walking shoes makes it much more enjoyable. Read on to find out the best walking shoes for seniors in 2023!
There aren’t many things as satisfying in life as a pair of perfectly fitting shoes. Don’t you think? When you find a shoe that just caresses your feet, looks really nice and has awesome features like waterproofing it just makes you smile.
That said, there are so many shoes to choose from, it’s hard to make up your mind about which to get and the worst part is that the models keep changing each year.
If you want to skip straight to the recommendations:
Fortunately, most high-quality shoe brands have realized that people like using shoes that feel the same once they find a pair that fits their preferences.
That’s why many brands have shoe model line-ups that stay almost identical year after year except for looks. Every couple of years they will put out the next model of the series that will have a whole new look but the sizing and fit will remain the same because they know people love them.
There are of course iconic shoe models that have remained virtually unchanged for decades like Converse All-Stars and Adidas Superstars.
But don’t worry! I will help you choose the perfect shoe for your need. All the shoes I will recommend are of high quality. And of course shoes are a matter of preference (looks and fit). But I think you won’t be disappointed with any of these!
If you wish to buy shoes online I recommend you order from Amazon, so you can use your right to return shoes that don’t fit or you don’t like. I’ve included links to the recommended shoes. They are affiliate, links so I will earn a small commission if you order through them. It really helps to keep the site running, so thank you if you do!
Benefits of walking for seniors
Before we look at the shoes I’d like to talk a bit about why walking is actually a great form of exercise for seniors and anyone really.
You see, we are built for walking. Humans have evolved to walk for extended periods with two feet. And there are several biological processes that help us walk and even reward us for walking.
Firstly our upright posture, leg muscles, and cardiovascular system are optimized for brisk walking. A healthy and fit human can pretty much walk all day every day as long as food, hydration, and rest are taken care of.
Our muscles have plenty of slow twitch muscle cells that work optimally in a low-intensity aerobic exercise like walking. Studies have actually shown that walking is more energy efficient than running for example. This suggests that our ancestors likely evolved to walk for long distances.
Benefits of walking include increases in the production of fat-burning enzymes, an increased capillary network that supplies the muscle cells with nutrients and oxygen, increased muscle mitochondria, and improved endurance.
Walking has also been shown to affect how our mind works. When we walk our stress levels, anxiety and depression dissipate. This happens especially when walking in nature. When you walk in nature by yourself and observe your surroundings your mind goes into a sort of trance.
You can have epiphanies as the way thoughts are processed changes and you might even experience losing track of time. These are likely evolutionary reward mechanisms that kept our ancestors wandering to the far reaches of the earth in search of food and resources.
But all we do is sit around
Even though nature meant for us to walk, most of us spend most of our time sitting. Either in front of a screen or in a car. This goes against our nature and is detrimental to our health.
Walking several thousand steps a day, spread evenly to avoid excessive rest periods, has been shown to be the most effective way to prevent the detrimental effects of excessive sitting.
Walking several times a day can be more effective for overall health than going to the gym or doing intense exercise for a shorter period of time.
That’s not to say that strength training and intense exercise aren’t beneficial, on the contrary, they should be included in your exercise routine. But it shows that overall activity levels and everyday exercise like walking are even more important.
Walking For Seniors
Walking is exceptionally good for seniors because of its low-impact nature. It’s easy on the joints and ligaments. It won’t exhaust you but actually improve recovery and energy levels due to improved circulation and metabolism.
Walking regularly will help you maintain your ability to walk for extended periods of time and distance without assistance. This is the most important thing for independence and freedom.
If you can’t walk without support, you are essentially stripped from your freedom to choose where you want to go and what you want to do.
Walking will also help you maintain your balance skill. This is because walking challenges your balance surprisingly well. Even though you don’t have to generally think about it.
Just think about how long it takes a toddler to learn to walk efficiently and confidently. And toddlers learn much faster than adults. Balance is a skill you need to practice actively.
A fitness tracker like a Fitbit is great for following your daily step count. This helps you gradually increase the amount you walk daily, which is more important than walking long distances infrequently. Check out my review for the best Fitbit for seniors if you want to look into getting a fitness tracker or a pedometer.
You also likely have a pedometer in your pocket already. I’m of course talking about your smartphone as I explain in the article Free Pedometers for Seniors (Simple Guide).
What to look for in a walking shoe
There are several things to look for in a walking shoe. There are some considerations you need to make depending on the main use of the shoe.
Are you going to wear them the whole day while traveling? You might need more cushioning and laces for added support.
Are you going to wear them only for short periods of time when you go outside for a trip to the grocery store for example? Maybe then it’s more important that they are easy and fast to put on and take off.
Here are some great tips about walking shoes for seniors by City of Plano Texas (YouTube embed, content not owned or created by ElderStrength.com):
Do you live in a cold climate or a warm climate? This affects if insulation and waterproofing are more important than breathability.
If you are going to use them for several hours at a time, like most walking shoes will be used, weight is also a factor. Especially if you like traveling or trekking for extended periods of time. Every added gram will add to the strain of your legs.
A very important consideration is the use and looks of the shoes. If you are using them mainly with exercise outfits, a running shoe or a tennis shoe will do just fine.
But if you want something that’s comfortable to go to town in, you might want to look for something a bit more formal and classic like a leather walking shoe.
Weight makes all the difference
The weight of a shoe is something many people don’t consider when choosing a shoe. Because shoes are at the very tip of our legs, they will travel a long distance on each step, and they will move surprisingly fast even if you are walking at a moderate pace.
Few ounces of extra weight might not mean much in your back pack or pocket but when it’s moving fast at each step every gram counts. You have to accelerate and decelerate that weight on each step and your ankle has to support the weight of the shoe when it’s in midair during a step.
This is why lighter shoes are more comfortable to wear and less tiring on a long walk or staying on your feet all day. The lightweight usually comes with a price though. The lighter the shoes the less insulation, cushioning, protection, and support it will usually have.
Lightweight shoes are also usually made out of synthetic materials as leather is simply too heavy. Super lightweight shoes are usually only good for sports and not really for daily use because the lack of material will make them less durable.
That said, there is usually a sweet spot between weight and durability and I recommend choosing shoes on the lighter side as your main walking shoes simply because they are much more enjoyable on your feet.
Soles are important for safety
The soles of the shoes are incredibly important for safety and comfort. The outer surface of the soles should be made out of high-friction rubber with a good grip texture. Smooth soles are dangerously slippery on many indoor surfaces and especially on ice and snow.
If you are going to use the shoes in the winter it’s especially important to get shoes with solid grip texture on the soles. Even if you are not going to use them in the winter it is wise to avoid smooth sole shoes. Because they are always going to be more prone to slipping. Preventing slipping is one of the easiest ways of fall prevention, which seniors need to take seriously.
Some shoes also have very annoying material that will squeak as you walk on hard floor or similar surface. I don’t know about you but I hate when my shoes do this, so it’s wise to choose shoes with silent material.
The inner sole is also where the cushioning of the shoe is located. I recommend using walking shoes that have a good level of heel lift with ample cushioning.
This will take away some of the impact from your knee and hip joints as you walk. The raised heel will allow your Achilles tendon to remain relaxed on long walks. The downside to this is that you should stretch your calves more to maintain mobility on your ankle. In my opinion well-cushioned running shoes are the best walking shoes for hip pain and other joint ailments.
The inner soles will also have contouring that’s very important for your gait. Depending on the form of your foot and ankle you might need arch support for over or under-pronation.
Some shoes have support automatically but I recommend you get shoes with neutral support and get professional insoles made for your individual need. Strength training can also help with ankle stability and gait if you have problems with your feet. These ankle exercises for seniors are especially effective
Waterproof or breathable
Next thing to consider is the use of the shoe. Will you be mainly walking in dry and warm conditions or possible in colder climates with rain or even snow?
Nothing makes your feet feel more uncomfortable than wearing too hot shoes that don’t breathe in a hot climate. Your feet will feel hot, sweaty, and swollen before you know it. What’s worse, the sweat and swelling make you prone to chafing and might even cause problems with circulation.
In hot climates, it’s more important to have breathable and light material instead of water and weather resistance. Synthetic mesh shoes are optimal for these conditions.
If you plan to use the shoes in a colder climate it’s wise to choose a model with some water resistance. If hot and sweaty feet feel uncomfortable, having wet and cold feet is potentially dangerous and even more uncomfortable.
A Gore-Tex or some other form of water resistance technology is a good decision for colder climate. So you don’t have to worry about walking in the rain or stepping in a puddle in the fall. Naturally the shoe should have a bit more insulation to keep your feet warm.
If you plan to use them in freezing conditions, you might need to invest in actual winter shoes. But in my experience water resistant, walking shoes are perfectly fine for short walks in freezing temperatures.
Laces or not?
The last thing is to consider what kind of fastening system you want in the shoe. If you plan on using the shoes for trekking or long walks in cities abroad regular laces offer the most support and are the most durable.
The annoying thing with laces is that it takes time to tie and untie them every time you put the shoes on. I don’t know about you but I have always found this to be rather annoying. Also, as you age, it can be harder to tie the laces due to mobility, and hand functionality issues.
Fortunately, there are several solutions that remove the need to tie shoe laces! As you surely know, there are slip-on shoes, Velcro shoes, and different kinds of fast tie shoe lace systems as I explained in the article Velcro shoes for seniors.
So if you want a simple walking shoe that’s easy and fast to put on and take off, you might want to consider something else than regular shoes laces.
Best waterproof walking shoes for seniors
The first shoes are the ones I use as my daily walking shoes during colder seasons. They are absolutely superb shoes and probably the most comfortable, versatile, and good-looking pair of shoes I have ever owned. Also, the most comfortable shoes in the world as far as I’m concerned. Meet the Nike Mens Air Zoom Pegasus 35 Shield Running Shoes.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I love these shoes! The only thing I don’t like about them is that they are too warm to wear during the hot summer months!
They are actually running shoes but don’t let this put you off. Running shoes are actually perfect for walking as well. The thing about running shoes is that there is more product research put into them than into casual walking shoes, they are usually lighter and more cushioned. Perfect for walking and especially for seniors.
These are the Shield version of the Pegasus 35. The Nike Shield is a water-resistant material with a bit of insulation to keep your feet warm and safe from the wind and rain.
The Shield version also feature special material on the sole that offers better grip on wet and slippery surfaces as well as reflective surfaces for added safety in dark conditions.
The shoes are not completely waterproof but I have not gotten my feet wet once even when running in puddles and wet snow. They come in several different colors and models for both men and women.
The shoes feature fast tie laces with a simple, easy to use mechanism. I have found that the shoes are actually perfect for slipping on and off once you set the laces to a moderate tightness. I don’t really use the fastening mechanism myself anymore.
Some shoes that are not designed to be slip on get easily crushed when you try to shove your foot in. Not these, they seem to be the perfect shape for putting on fast. Absolutely great! Truly great lightweight sneakers for walking
- Water resistant (not completely proof)
- Fast to put on
- Slip resistant
- Extremely comfortable
- Great bang for the buck!
- Too warm to wear in hot summer weather
Best Warm Weather Walking Shoe For Seniors
So, I think the Pegasus 35 Shield is so great shoe that I’m going to recommend the same shoe without the Shield features as the warm weather option! These are what I plan to get myself soon for the summer! Meet the regular Nike Pegasus 35’s.
I truly think the Pegasus 35’s are the best all-day walking shoes for seniors. The regular 35’s differs from the Shield version in couple of features.
Firstly they are made out of fly mesh synthetic fabric that almost feels like a sock over your feet. They are very breathable and will keep your feet cool during the summer.
The soles are well textured just like the Shield version but the rubber is more optimized for warm weather. Meaning it’s a bit harder so it won’t go as soft on hot asphalt which increases durability.
The laces are regular ones but it’s very easy to tie them so that you can use the shoe as a slip-on. This makes them super easy to use. They are like comfortable socks you put on for outside use!
The lighter fabric makes them even lighter than the Shield version. Other than that the shoes are pretty much identical. The soles feel the same on your feet and the cushioning and the construction of the soles are exactly the same.
- Cool and breathable
- Fast to put on
- Light weight
- Extremely comfortable
- Great bang for the buck!
- Not suitable for cold weather
- Regular laces
I hope you enjoyed my review and recommendations for the best walking shoes for seniors. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments field below and I will contact you as soon as possible!
Walking is an excellent form of exercise for seniors and all people, that’s what we are built to do. There is nothing that makes walking more enjoyable than a pair of well-fitting shoes.
A pair of high-quality shoes that fit you well will feel like socks on your feet and make your step light. They also protect your joints from impact so it’s a wise decision to invest in shoes you like!
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