We have all heard doctors and fitness trainers extol the benefits of regular physical activity, but most still manage to refrain. Everyone’s body is different, and each body responds differently to exercise. Some people dislike anything requiring good coordination; others think of cardio as a punishment. But there is one activity just about everyone can do: walking. It is low impact, accessible to every able-bodied person, and requires no special skill or equipment besides decent shoes, which is probably why it is enjoyed by approximately 145 million people to fulfill their physical activity requirement.
“Decent shoes” is a broad category. For a novice hiker especially, the selection can be confusing. Is one boot better than another? How does waterproofing effect weight and breathability? What makes a comfortable walking boot?
Do you walk for at least 30 minutes a day for at least five days each week? Fewer than 34% of Americans actually meet that basic requirement. Besides wondering who actually keep track of such a thing, you may wonder if there is are special shoes you should wear, or if any old pair will do the job. When a shoe or boot is meant to cover a specific type of ground or activity, the short answer is no, any old pair is not equal to another. For example, womens waterproof hiking boots fulfill a different function than a women’s basketball shoe.
Shoes designed with a certain activity in mind should be decided upon with careful consideration. For example, womens waterproof hiking boots are, clearly, meant to be worn on rough trails and can repel water. The buyer should pay attention to the product’s claims though. Waterproof is not the same as water repellent. The difference could be soggy socks or dry feet. One is more pleasant than the other on a long hike.
There are a few other pointers as well, the first of which is to know your true foot size. This may require a trip to a store with a helpful sales associate. Other helpful pointers include going to the shoe store at the end of the day, when feet are at their most swollen. Wearing the proper socks and/or orthotics are also necessary to find the best fit. A good fit in the store that feels nice after walking around the store a bit will translate to comfort later.
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