There are plenty of 'toning' shoes out there, but do they really help you burn more calories and tone your hips and thighs as the ads claim? According to the American Council on Exercise, the answer is, not really.
In the ACE-commissioned study, researchers had a group of women go through a series of treadmill trials to compare how they responded to exercise while wearing different shoes - regular running shoes, Skechers, MBT shoes and EasyTones. They then measured muscle activity using EMG (electromyography) to find out if the muscles responded differently while using the 'toning' shoes. The results:
- The toning shoes showed no significant increases in muscle activation
- There were no significant differences in rate of perceived exertion (RPE), oxygen consumption or calories burned while wearing the toning shoes as opposed to the regular running shoes.
Now, some readers who have reviewed the Reebok EasyTones say they think these shoes work because they can feel it in their legs and butt. Some even reported being sore after wearing them, concluding that there must be some kind of toning going on if they felt it the next day. The experts say that isn't the case. Wearing any shoe that's different may cause some soreness, but that doesn't necessarily translate into toning the butt and thighs.
So, should you avoid these shoes? If you're buying them just for the toning benefits, you might be better off with regular running shoes and a solid cardio and strength program. Aside from the lack of toning, there is some concern about long-term wear and the potential for injuries. Some readers have reported problems with their knees, feet and Achilles tendons, but there's no way of knowing who might be at risk for these types of problems or who, on the other hand, might actually benefit from wearing these types of shoes.
What do you think? Does a study like this make you re-think buying 'toning' shoes? Or maybe you've tried them and have some experience one way or the other? Leave a comment and tell us what you think or, if you can review specific shoes here: Reebok EasyTone Shoe Review, MBT Shoe Review, and Skecher Shape-Ups.
Porcari J, Greany J, Tepper S, et al. Will Toning Shoes Really Give You a Better Body?. ACE. Retrieved 7/27/2010.