Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Close Banner
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

The 11 Best Walking Shoes For Women Of 2024, Per Podiatrist Guidelines

Carleigh Ferrante
Author: Medical reviewer:
February 06, 2024
Carleigh Ferrante
mbg Commerce Editor
By Carleigh Ferrante
mbg Commerce Editor
Carleigh Ferrante is the Commerce Editor at mindbodygreen.
Robert Kornfeld, DPM
Medical review by
Robert Kornfeld, DPM
Holistic Podiatrist
Robert Kornfeld, DPM is a holistic podiatrist, dedicated to treating chronic foot and ankle pain at its source.
February 06, 2024
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

After walking an average of 12,000 steps per day in 2023 and testing more than 20 pairs of shoes, I learned firsthand that the best walking shoes make a world of difference in comfort level, well-being, and performance.

One in five people1 experience regular foot pain, aching, or stiffness; and most of those people are women. "To prevent any potential foot-related discomfort or injuries, is important to wear suitable walking shoes," says licensed podiatrist and founder of the Quality Podiatry Group, Sidney Weiser, DPM—but what exactly makes a shoe good for walking?

Per Weiser, the key factors to look for when choosing the best walking shoes for women are cushioning, a wide toe box, arch support, traction, durability, and breathability. You'll also want to consider your gait, budget, style preferences, and any existing foot conditions.

The best walking shoes for women:

My top picks are the KLAW 528 and Cariuma Oca Low, but everyone’s needs are different. Whether you have bunions, plantar fasciitis, high arches, or another concern, there's an option for you below.

Why we write about walking shoes

Walking is key for longevity, and the right shoes set you up for better health, comfort, and performance. We have an active staff with a variety of foot types—and we've tested dozens of shoes, so we're well versed in how to pick the best walking shoes for women

Our podiatrist's criteria

We spoke with licensed podiatrist and founder of the Quality Podiatry Group, Sidney Weiser, DPM, to gather a specific criteria for selecting the best walking shoes. Each shoe on our list was held to these standards.

  • Cushioning: For hard floors, Weiser recommends always wearing shoes—not going barefoot—and adds that your shoes should have a cushioned insole throughout the entire foot (heel, sole, and midfoot) to prevent heel pain.
  • Wide toe box: While this is specifically important for those with wide feet or bunions, Weiser says the toe box of your shoe should be flexible, wide enough, and deep enough to provide for free movement of toes. This prevents blisters and deformed toes.
  • Arch support: Weiser says arch support is essential, explaining that proper arch support absorbs shock, provides stability, helps maintains natural foot alignment, and reduces strain on the joints.
  • Traction: Per Weiser, walking shoes should have excellent traction so you feel secure on all surfaces
  • Durability: You want a shoe durable enough to withstand daily movement and maintains its shape over time, Weiser says.
  • Breathability: According to Weiser, breathability and flexibility is important for preventing issues such as blisters or fungal infections.

Summary

Our podiatrist recommends paying attention to this criteria for how to choose the best running shoes: cushioning, wide toe box, arch support, traction, durability, flexibility, and breathability.

The best walking shoes for women

OCA Low by Cariuma

Best sustainable
Sizes
5-13; half sizes available

Why we picked them:

More than half of our editorial staff owns at least one pair of Cariuma sneakers—and they're our go-to for a reason. These sleek, sustainable sneakers keep your feet comfortable and supported during long walks, daily errands, and days on your feet.

I’ve personally worn mine on close to 100 walks (and they’re still in great shape). Per our podiatrist’s guidelines, these are lightweight, breathable, and offer good arch support.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Mesh material is breathable
  • Easy to slip on and off your feet
  • Supportive and comfortable for long walks
  • Made from recycled & organic materials
Cons
  • Not as well cushioned as others
  • Not available in wide sizes

What our podiatrist panel says

Surgical podiatrist, Nelya Lobkova, previously told mindbodygreen that, while these sneakers are completely flat, the cork insole is naturally firm and durable. We've walked for miles in these shoes and can confirm they're surprisingly comfortable and supportive.

Save 15%: MINDBODYGREEN
View on KLAW | $148

KLAW 528

Best for bunions
Weight
11 oz.
Drop
7mm
Sizes
6-11, wide sizes available, some half sizes available

Why we picked them:

My personal favorite on our list, KLAW's 528 sneakers were designed specifically for walking. While they are also available in wide sizes, I have bunions and can personally attest to the regular width's spacious toe box. I wear them on outdoor and indoor walks (on my walking pad), and my feet have never been more comfortable.

KLAW’s ‘Biomechanics System’ offers support along the entire arch of your foot, and the shoes have a deep heel cup to promote stability and stop your feet from tilting in or out while you’re walking.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Very well-cushioned
  • Extremely durable and easy to clean
  • Stylish chunky design
Cons
  • Thick design may not be breathable enough for extreme heat
  • Leather creases easily

What our podiatrist panel says

The KLAW 528 walking shoes we designed with New York podiatrist Nelya Lobkova—and they have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of approval—so you can trust they’ll be beneficial to your foot health.

In terms of our podiatrist's criteria, these check a ton of boxes: cushioning, traction, arch support, and durability. While they do feel surprisingly lightweight given their chunky design, they might not be quite breathable enough for extreme heat.

Women Tree Runners by Allbirds

Best lightweight
Weight
8.6 oz.
Drop
9mm
Sizes
5-11

Why we picked them:

I've been wearing the Allbirds Tree Runners longer than any other walking shoe I currently own—and I'm not the only mindbodygreen team member who loves these lightweight kicks. They hit the mark on comfort, breathability, arch support, and cushioning.

I'm always surprised by how long my Allbirds last, too, even when I'm going through a phase of wearing them daily. What's more, these sustainable shoes are made from responsibly sourced eucalyptus tree fiber. The brand seriously prioritizes sustainability—even the shoelaces are from recycled materials, and the shoes are shipped in only the shoe box with no excess packaging.

I wouldn't recommend the Tree Runners for any heavier exercise than walking, as their support is fairly minimal, but they're great for daily walks, travel, and errands. Bonus: They're available in more than 10 colorways.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Mesh outer is very breathable
  • Made from sustainable materials
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • No half sizes
  • Not for heavier exercise

What our podiatrist panel says

"In keeping with the natural approach I utilize, I do like these shoes," Kornfeld says. "The flexibility allows for natural muscle function and engages the foot in stability of its own rather than from a stiff and more rigid shoe that disables a lot of intrinsic muscle activity."

What's more, Kornfeld says the Allbirds Tree Runners easily fit any custom orthotics he prescribes for his patients.

Lululemon Chargefeel 2 Low

Best for a neutral gait
Weight
9.7 oz.
Drop
9mm
Sizes
5-12, half sizes available

Why we picked them:

The Lululemon Chargefeel 2 sneakers were designed primarily for running and training, but they have all the aspects of a great walking shoe. The dual-density cushioned foam sole adds bounce and comfort to your step, helping to absorb impact and propel you forward while you walk.

We love that these are made from a breathable material to prevent your feet from sweating—and, while they’re on the heavier side compared to others on our list, they still feel fairly lightweight. 

Another major plus: These come in seven colorways, with neutral and bold options.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Versatile design can be work for walking, running, or training
  • Great traction on indoor or outdoor terrain
  • Flexible sole moves with your foot
Cons
  • On the heavier side

What our podiatrist panel says

According to Weiser, the best walking shoes should have great traction—and Lululemon’s Chargefeel delivers. Designed primarily for running and training, the shoe has a pressure-mapped outsole that keeps your feet stable and secure on both indoor and outdoor terrain.

View on Skechers | $65
See more options

Skechers GOwalk Joy

Best for women over 50
Weight
6.8 oz.
Drop
9.5mm
Sizes
5-13, half sizes available, wide sizes available, narrow sizes available

Why we picked them:

We love the slip-on design of these walking shoes. They're flexible and lightweight, but don't sacrifice comfort or support. The design boasts three must-haves from our podiatrist: a breathable mesh upper, a well-cushioned sole, and traction support on the bottom.

Another perk? It's made from vegan materials and is machine washable. Our tester (a 64-year-old with narrow feet) says her pair has held up well through over six months of daily wear.

Tester note: The regular sizes do run narrow, so if you have wide feet we recommend going with the wide sizes.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Lightweight, breathable mesh material
  • Durable through regular wear
  • Machine washable
Cons
  • Insoles are not removable

What our podiatrist panel says

Weisner’s recommendation for women over 50 is to “avoid rigid fabric, tight shoe gear, and non-flexible soles, which can cause blisters.” The GoWalk Joy fits the bill perfectly, and reviewers (our 64-year-old tester included) rave about the shoe's fit and durability.

Gohil adds that these shoes are "lightweight with responsive cushioning," which are both incredibly important when it comes to the best walking shoes for women.

View on Asics | $165
See more options

Gel Kayano 31 by Asics

Best for plantar fasciitis
Weight
9.1 oz.
Drop
13mm
Sizes
5-13, half sizes available, wide sizes available

Why we picked them:

Multiple podiatrists have recommended ASICS to us for walking, running, and a number of specific needs including knee pain, wide feet, and plantar fasciitis. 

I’m extremely picky when it comes to running and walking shoes—and I’ve personally worn these shoes for three world major marathons and hundreds of training miles.

The shoe features a stable heel counter for more rearfoot support, and is equipped with cushioning in the midsole to reduce shock during impact and toe-off phases. Designed specifically for those with neutral or overpronation, this lightweight shoe helps you maintain a smooth gait.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Supportive enough for walking and running
  • Rearfoot and forefoot gel for even distribution
  • Durable
Cons
  • Some say the collar is tight

What our podiatrist panel says

If you have plantar fasciitis, Sharkey says you should “Avoid shoes without arch support or avoid excessively flexible shoes—if you can fold it in half or entirely twist it in half, it's a shoe to avoid."

The Gel Kayano’s Dynamic DuoMax Support System offers enhanced stability and platform support to prevent collapse of the foot arch. It's also incredibly durable.

Gohil likes that the Gel Kayano sneakers provides support and have a spacious toe area (which also makes them one of the best shoes for people with bunions, like myself).

View on Zappos | $145
See more options

Hoka Clifton 9

Best for flat feet
Weight
7.2 oz.
Drop
8mm
Sizes
5-12, half sizes available, wide sizes available

Why we picked it:

Hoka is a cult-favorite among runners, walkers, and podiatrists. The Hoka Clifton 9 design was previously recommended to mindbodygreen by podiatrist Anne Sharkey, who says it's a great option for people with flat feet who need enhanced stability, or for wide feet (thanks to its wider toe box).

The shoe's design provides neutral stability and a balanced cushion that’s supportive but still reactive. We love the extended achilles pull tab which makes these incredibly easy to put on and take off.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal
  • Stabilizing design
  • Cushioning throughout entire foot
Cons
  • Too narrow for some

What our podiatrist panel says

For flat feet, Weiser says to look for a shoe with arch support to prevent rolling (overpronation), and a firm heel counter (back of your shoe). “The front of the shoe needs to be wide enough to accommodate for splaying of the forefoot and deep enough to accommodate custom orthotics if needed to prevent overpronation,” he adds.

Per podiatrist Anne Sharkey, "HOKA has an edge on the market for those with flat feet needing enhanced stability with the Arahi and Clifton models. The active foot frame is designed to cradle the foot for stability and comfort.”

Kornfeld says many of his patients enjoy wearing this shoe for walking, noting that it's a lightweight, comfortable pick. However, he warns that the Hoka Clifton 9 is not as well cushioned as some other shoes on the list.

"It’s an ideal shoe for people who find walking and standing stresses their feet and creates symptoms. Admittedly, this shoe isn’t for everyone, but for those who require its design, it is a great and easy to wear shoe," Kornfeld adds.

Women's TechLoom Pro by APL

Best for travel
Weight
6.8 oz.
Drop
8mm
Sizes
5-11, half sizes available

Why we picked it:

As much as it pains me to put a shoe with a five-day return window on our list, the APL Techloom Bliss has a cult-following that says its worth the hype (and the risk of not getting your money back). This stylish sneaker is technically a running shoe, but it's also great for walking to training at the gym.

It’s lightweight and breathable, and features a milled satin or embossed elastic strap, depending on which model you choose. What’s more, the shoe is slip-on, so you won’t be fighting with untied laces during your workout or walk. We love this unisex walking shoe for travel, since it’s easy to slip on and off. 

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Easy to slip on and off your feet
  • Elastic material moves with your feet and provides a comfortable, snug fit
  • Made with vegan materials
Cons
  • No wide or narrow sizes
  • 5-day return window

What our podiatrist panel says

Our podiatrists stressed the importance of a shoe that fits your foot just right, which is why we love the TechLoom’s stretchy upper. It provides a seamless fit that moves with your feet, hugging them in just the right way. 

This shoe also has exceptional traction, thanks to its durable rubber outsole and proprietary design.

View on Nordstrom | $140
See more options

On Cloud 5

Best for standing all day
Weight
7.1 oz.
Drop
7mm
Sizes
5-11, half sizes available

Why we picked them:

Designed for all-day wear, the Cloud 5 is made with 44% recycled materials and a breathable antimicrobial mesh upper for extended comfort. The design incorporates On’s patented zero-gravity Cloudtec cushioning for a softer landing with every step.

But what really sets this shoe apart is its signature speed-lacing system, which eliminates the need to tie (or re-tie) your laces. Although if you’d prefer a more classic shoelace, you’ll find that option in the box as well.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Lightweight, breathable design
  • Still comfortable after hours of standing
  • Fits true to size
Cons
  • Sizing runs small

What our podiatrist panel says

Gohil notes that "On Running is praised for its innovative cushioning technology and lightweight design." And, while this shoe has a slightly lower drop than what our podiatrist recommended (7mm vs 8-10mm), it fits all other criteria.

The On Cloud 5 design is lightweight and breathable, provides sufficient arch support and traction, and holds up well over time.

Ghost 16 by Brooks

Best for wide feet
Weight
9.1 oz.
Drop
12mm
Sizes
5-13 (half, narrow, wide, & extra wide)

Why we picked them:

Podiatrists specifically recommend the Brooks Ghost 15 for women with high arches—and we love that it’s a great pick for walking or running. With optimal cushioning and the brand’s BioMoGo DNA Loft throughout the midsection, this shoe promotes a smooth heel-to-toe experience. 

The end result is a secure and stable fit that’s bound to carry you for miles to come. Bonus: It’s available in both wide and narrow width, with 40 colorways to choose from.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Balanced support
  • Extremely soft cushioning
  • Secure fit
Cons
  • Toe box is too narrow for some

What our podiatrist panel says

This waterproof, carbon neutral shoe is a personal favorite of chiropractor and fitness trainer Sarah Sarah Sponaugle. She previously told mindbodygreen it's a standout pick for women with high arches, specifically for running—but it's great for walking too, thanks to stellar cushioning and great traction.

View on Nike | $130
See more options

Nike Pegasus

Best for high arches
Weight
7.58 oz.
Drop
10mm
Sizes
5-12, half sizes available

Why we picked them:

It’s no surprise these popular shoes have been around for decades. While the design continues to evolve, one thing stays the same: Nike’s Pegasus have all the elements of a good walking shoe.

We love the way the upper hugs your foot for a secure-yet-breathable fit. The rubber outsole offers great traction for various terrains, and the cushioning feels comfortable under your feet as you move.

Bonus: They're great for running, too.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • Breathable upper
  • Can be worn for running or walking
  • Secure fit
Cons
  • Some say it runs narrow (but it's available in extra-wide)

What our podiatrist panel says

While this shoe does run on the narrow side, the brand offers an extra-wide fit for those with wide feet—and the Pegasus meets all other podiatrist criteria. It's lightweight, breathable, and comfortable, with optimal traction and support.

This shoe is on the higher end when it comes to heel drop, making it a great choice for walkers who prefer a bit more cushioning.

Meet our podiatrist panel

Sidney Weiser, DPM

Sidney Weiser, DPM, is a licensed podiatrist and founder of the Quality Podiatry Group.

Robert Kornfeld, DPM

Robert Kornfeld, DPM is a holistic podiatrist and a graduate of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. He is a fellow at the American College of Alternative Medicine and board-certified by the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

Anne Sharkey, DPM,

Anne Sharkey, DPM, is an Austin-based podiatrist at the North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute. She specializes in ankle sprains, ankle stabilization, Achilles tendon disorders, bunion correction, and heel pain.

Gregory Alvarez, DPM

Hillary Brenner

Hillary Brenner is a board certified podiatric surgeon and founder of Dr. Brenner's RX.

Dina Gohil, DPM

Dina Gohil, DPM, is an experienced podiatrist with a demonstrated history of working in the medical practice industry.

Comparing the best walking shoes for women

ProductPriceSizes availableColorwaysDropWeightAPMA Seal of Acceptance
Cariuma Oca Low$855-1316not specifiednot specifiedno
KLAW 528$1486-1157mm11 ozyes
Allbirds Tree Runners$1055-11159mm8.6 ozno
Lululemon Chargefeel 2 Low$1385-1279mm9.7 ozno
Skechers GoWalk Joy$655-1369.5mm6.8 ozno
Asics Gel-Kayano 29$1605-131913mm9.1 ozyes
Hoka Clifton 9$1405-12208mm7.2 ozyes
APL Women's TechLoom Bliss$1605-11208mm6.8 ozno
On Cloud 5$1405-11147mm7.1 ozyes
Brooks Ghost 15$1105-132012mm9 ozyes
Nike Pegasus$1305-121910mm7.6 ozno

Our selection & testing process

To find the best walking shoes for women, we spent hours researching and consulting with experts. We gathered specific criteria (outlined below) for what to look for in a walking shoe.

We also polled our team internally to get feedback from people with a variety of foot types, concerns, and preferences. I personally have tested over 20 pairs of shoes in the past year alone—and I've worn five picks on our final list regularly for at least two months each.

Once we narrowed down our top picks, we reviewed each one against our podiatrist's criteria. Above, we've outlined each shoe's pros and cons, its weight, heel drop, and additional details worth mentioning.

Our team is continuing to test these shoes and other options so we can provide additional insights on the best walking shoes for women.

The benefits of walking

For starters, any form of regular cardiovascular exercise can lower inflammation2improve metabolic health3, and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease4. And walking in nature specifically can boost your mood5improve cognitive function6reduce blood pressure7, and even help you sleep better8.

What's more, walking has some pretty staggering longevity benefits. In fact, studies have shown a significant correlation between more steps per day and a lower mortality rate in women9.

What is heel drop?

Per Weiser, "The term "shoe drop" refers to the difference in heel height compared to the forefoot height of a shoe." A higher heel drop means the heel is higher than the forefoot, while a lower heel drop means that the heel is closer to the forefoot. 

"[Drop] affects the distribution of weight and impacts the walking or running gait," Weiser says. "Selecting a suitable drop depends on an individual's walking style, foot type, and specific medical conditions." It's typically measured in millimeters, and most walking shoes have a drop of 8 to 10 millimeters.

That said, walking shoes with a slightly higher or lower drop can still be great options depending on other factors. For example, the KLAW 528 and On Cloud 5 shoes both have a 7 millimeter drop and still feel very supportive and well-cushioned.

FAQ

What's the difference between walking shoes and running shoes

Walking shoes are a bit stiffer than running shoes and do not tend to bend and flex in the same way; it's not always a good idea to run in walking shoes for this reason.

What walking shoes are best for flat feet?

We've chosen the Hoka Clifton 9 as the best walking shoes for flat feet, but what's best for you will depend on a number of other criteria, such as gait and what surface you are walking on.

Why do podiatrists recommend Hoka?

Many of Hoka’s design have the APMA seal of approval, meaning that they’re beneficial to foot health. We’ve had a number of podiatrists recommend Hoka styles for various use cases—and we’ve chosen the Hoka Clifton 9 as the best walking shoe for flat or wide feet specifically.

The takeaway

Walking is a great way to incorporate movement into your day, and it can have a seriously great impact on your physical and mental health—but you need the right shoes to provide optimal support and comfort. Everyone has different needs, but a few of our top picks are the KLAW 528, Cariuma Oca Low, and Hoka Clifton 9.

RELATED: Not sure if walking is as good as running? Read our full breakdown of the benefits of walking vs. running. Spoiler alert: They're both huge longevity boosters.

Additional reporting by Rachel MacPherson.

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

What Is Meditation?

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Light Watkins

Box Breathing

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

What Breathwork Can Address

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

Nutrition | Rich Roll

What to Eat Before a Workout

Nutrition | Rich Roll

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Nutrition | Sahara Rose

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Love Languages

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Related Videos (10)

What Is Meditation?

Box Breathing

What Breathwork Can Address

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

What to Eat Before a Workout

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love Languages

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

More On This Topic

more Lifestyle
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.