How to Compare Cross Trainers, Running Shoes & Walking Shoes

Written by gigi starr
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How to Compare Cross Trainers, Running Shoes & Walking Shoes
Shop carefully to narrow down the multitude of athletic shoe options. (Parade image by mhiser from

The athletic shoe market is full of new innovations and old favourites that can make for quite a confusing shopping experience. Depending on your exercise activity, one shoe may be better than another at supporting your foot, controlling extraneous movement and preserving comfort. To satisfy all of these needs, athletic shoe designers have created styles for walking, running and cross-training (all-purpose fitness). To figure out which shoe fits your needs and feet best, it's necessary to do some detective work first.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Athletic socks

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Match the shoe with an activity. Running shoes are built differently from walking shoes and cross-trainers, so it's important to be specific in your choice. According to Christina Frank of WebMD, "Walking shoes are stiffer; running shoes are more flexible, with extra cushioning to handle greater impact. If you do both activities, get a pair for each one."

  2. 2

    Leave vanity out of the equation. Purchasing a shoe because it looks hot is the fastest way to sore feet and injuries. The best shoe for your foot may be boring-looking, while a badly made shoe will have great style. Compare for how the shoe feels and is constructed, not how it appears.

  3. 3

    Look at the toe and sole if the box doesn't specify the shoe type. A running shoe has a toe that curls upward, along with a sole that thins out toward the toe. A cross-trainer will have a consistently thick sole, while a walking shoe is more stiff and rigid.

  4. 4

    Move in the shoe, making sure to pay attention to the feel of the shoe as the foot moves through its gait. The walking shoe will be firm to the feel, while the running shoe allows the foot to fluidly move and bend. A cross-trainer will be in the middle, but will be more padded.

  5. 5

    Purchase a cross-trainer for sports activities and general fitness. Cross-training shoes are designed for stop-and-go motion with more lateral movement, unlike a running shoe that is built for forward movement. Rick Alan of ThirdAge writes, "Unlike most other athletic activities, running is done in a continuous forward motion, requiring very little lateral movement and very little starting and stopping. In addition, running inflicts a great deal more continuous and sustained pounding on the feet than almost any other athletic activity." To prevent injury, buy a shoe that concentrates padding on the areas that need it the most.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear the socks that you normally wear when trying on athletic shoes. Utilising your real-life wardrobe items will give the most realistic feedback with regard to fit and comfort.
  • No matter what shoe you're buying, make certain that it's comfortable in the store before spending any cash. An uncomfortable shoe won't morph into a cosy one, no matter how much "breaking in" happens. If a shoe simply doesn't feel right, keep trying shoes until one works out.

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