Sculpt your legs, burn more calories and improve muscle strength while wearing the innovative new toning shoe — it all sounds great, but appears to be mostly hype and hoopla according to a recent study by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The shoe companies are all touting the toning shoe as the next great fitness innovation. The shoes are designed with a uniquely shaped and unstable sole with extra cushioning to alter the normal walking gait and purportedly make the leg muscles work harder.
Not so, reports ACE. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin monitored oxygen consumption, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), caloric expenditure, and muscle activation in subject’s who wore three different brands of toning shoes on a treadmill (MBT: Masai Barefoot Technology, Sketchers Shape-ups, Reebok Easytone).
“None of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials as compared to wearing running shoes. There is simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone,” reports ACE.
Yes, they do alter gait patterns which may be why wearer’s often report that it feels like their muscles are working harder when they are just working the muscles differently due to the change in biomechanics. Also when you take a non-exerciser and place them in a new shoe and then initiate any type of exercise there will be measurable physiologic improvements.
The bottom line – it’s the exercise, not the shoe that improves fitness! Want a good workout for the legs- try walking or running in sand.