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Top-rated shoes tested against the pavement

August 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Millions of Americans get their exercise by walking, but you may not get the best out of your workout if you have the wrong shoe.So how do you choose?

Consumer Reports tested 25 pairs of walking shoes, both men's and women's, including five shoes that claim to tone muscles: Earth Kinetics, Sketchers Shape-Ups and Reebok's Easy Tone Reeinspire. Testers had panelists describe how they felt.

"Most of the panelists said they could feel with the Earth Kinetics and the Sketchers their muscles working, but not so much with the Reeboks. Also, these shoes may not be great for people with balance issues because they work differently than traditional shoes and may be unstable," explained Peter Anzalone of Consumer Reports.

Testers put all the shoes through a battery of tests, including ones from New Balance, Nike and Reebok.

The flexibility test measured how easily a shoe bends, which is important. Testers also evaluated the shoes' stability and cushioning at an outside lab.

Consumer Reports also had staffers walk in the shoes for about 250 hours in total.

In the end, Consumer Reports top rated the $100 Asics GEL-Tech Walker Neo for both men and women.

The $20 ProSpirit Jacorey, sold at Target, for men came close. And a second choice for women is the $70 Ryka Radiant, which were rated excellent for cushioning and flexibility.

Consumer Reports also liked Avia's $80 A333M for excellent cushioning and New Balance's $75 WW494 for women for excellent flexibility.

Experts say the best time to try on shoes is late in the afternoon as heat and circulation have your feet at their largest.


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