From Reebok's EasyTones to Shape Ups by Skechers, toning shoes are all the rage these days. The unstable shoes, in either sneaker or flip-flop form, claim to tone your legs more than regular shoes by forcing your legs and core to work harder with each step. With price tags ranging from just under $100 to almost $250, these shoes are big business.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) decided to investigate the fitness claims, including increased calorie burn and increased work in leg muscles, used to sell toning shoes. In two small studies, ACE researchers found that when compared to New Balance running shoes, "none of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation" during walking tests conducted on treadmills. Researchers concluded that "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." Bottom line: the shoes do not live up to manufacturers' claims. The research team believes that the increase in walking inspired by the toning shoes, not the shoes themselves, have helped a fair number of people tone up.
When I have tried different versions of these shoes, I never felt much of anything except with high-soled MBTs, which helped my posture, too. Do you have a pair of toning shoes? Do you think they work? Tell me in the comments section below.