$200 ‘Toning’ Sneakers Won’t Make You Skinny

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The idea that a certain kind of sneaker will significantly help the wearer get in shape and lose weight is “utter nonsense,” according to a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Another expert says, “Nothing about these shoes has any redeeming value.”

Toning shoes, which have rounded soles that are supposed to produce a more rigorous workout than typical sneakers, are sold by manufacturers such as Reebok, Skechers, and Avia. The trendy shoes are marketed with the idea that they’re help the wearer firm up thighs, butts, and calves, and they’re bought primarily by women. Available at retail for between $100 and $250, sales of toning shoes are strong—up 400% this year. According to experts quoted in a USA Today story, however, you’re probably better off with a regular (and cheaper) pair of sneakers:

… a growing number of doctors are warning that toning shoes don’t deliver on their marketing promises and could cause injuries by, among other things, changing a person’s gait, or way of walking.

Claims that toning shoes can significantly contribute to a person’s fitness are “utter nonsense,” says Barbara de Lateur, distinguished service professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Another expert chimes in with his take—that a “toning” shoe seems to be nothing more than a gimmick:

David Davidson, national president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, says … he’s suspicious of any shoes that come with an instructional booklet and DVD.

“Nothing about these shoes has any redeeming value to me,” he says. “Sorry, I don’t see it.”

So if you really want to get in shape, what should you do? Well, there are a bajillion options, roughly speaking. A colleague of Lateur’s offers some advice that couldn’t be more basic:

Her colleague at Johns Hopkins, Wendy Shore, says consumers would get the supposed health benefits of toning shoes and save money if they skipped buying the shoes, then “bought one less bagel a day — and walked an extra block.”

To round up: Getting in shape has less to do with what’s on your feet than what you’re doing with your feet, or various other parts of your body.

Get This: You Don’t Have to Pay Money to Exercise