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Toning Shoes Do Not Work According to Research by American Council of Exercise

Toning Shoes No Better Than Sneakers

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.

Join The Conversation
lblond lblond 7 years
of course they don't work. if there was a "skinny" pill, we'd all be on it. but these shoes will not make you any more toned if you don't actually get up and workout. sorry America!
amandaaa amandaaa 7 years
I love my Fit Flops. they're really comfortable and good for a long day of walking.
kclulu kclulu 7 years
I never believed they could actually tone more than any other shoe, however I am curious as to what the long term effect that wearing these shoes could have. It seems that anyone who has a pair swears by their comfort, but is this fundamentally changing the way they are walking? In direct contrast is the barefoot movement which makes the claim that running shoes have caused humans to incur more injuries because all of the support and pading changes the way you run. Our ancient ancestors did quite a bit of running and they did it barefoot without any major problems because they evolved to run barefoot and thus so did we. It is only recently that running shoes have come into the picture and there is evidence showing that with the running shoes came an increase of injury. Shape ups seem to change the way you walk quite a bit, so I would be interested to see if there is any harm in that. I have never tried a shape up myself and do own a pair of Five Fingers that I love so my perspective may be a bit skewed but I haven't really heard this aspect of shape ups being discussed. I guess the good news is that it gets people out and walking more.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
My mom got a pair and was *raving* about them, so I picked some up. She says they've helped her tone up and she just wears them to work. I got mine for $30 at Payless (Champion Brand) and I don't know if they tone any more, but they are so comfortable it's ridiculous. I got in a bad car accident when I was 18 and I've had minor aches and pains ever since, but I've been feeling much better lately. I would highly recommend them for that reason alone. And if some gimmicky new shoe is what it takes for someone to take their exercise routine more seriously, them I'm all for it.
fizzymartini fizzymartini 7 years
No toning effects as far as I can see, but so many swear by MBTs as a rehabilitation shoe, and I have now joined those ranks. I did my left foot in a few months ago, and quite literally the only way I could get around was in MBTs - it even hurt to walk barefoot, but the curved sole was crucial and helped me get places with minimal pain. I now feel like I owe quite a bit to those little suckers, expensive as they were! x
ashleygaidhlig ashleygaidhlig 7 years
I have a pair of fit flops. I love wearing flip flops in the summer, but normal flip flops have no support and give me some leg/back pains. I haven't seen any toning as a result from the fit flops, but they've definitely allowed me to walk around comfortably in the summer without wearing closed toe shoes!
Matt-Joseph Matt-Joseph 7 years
Thank God I came across this post. Yes! Those things always seemed ridiculous to me. But, I must give the inventors an A for effort on this one. At least they were thinking creatively.
aliblade22 aliblade22 7 years
I have the Skechers Shape-Ups, and while I don't think they've had much impact or my booty or overall fitness, I do feel I have better posture when I wear them. Plus they are without a doubt THE most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. I can walk around in them all day without any soreness or tired feet, and I can't say that about regular tennis shoes. On that basis, I highly recommend them.
inlove23 inlove23 7 years
Ha, such a joke. Of course they "work" people are walking which leads to toning/losing weight, but not because of some special toning power. I saw the best ad today, it was running shoes that help tone. I mean unless I'm doing something wrong I'm pretty sure running already tones you and that you don't need special shoes for that. haha. So boo on toning shoes.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I kind of wondered about that...people who wear them claim they're so great, but I'm thinking that simply wearing the shoes incites people to walk more, so they are more active and thus get firmer backsides. I wouldn't buy them. I'll stick with squats and lunges to shape my buns.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I was never too convinced about this shoes.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
I have a pair of Reebok Easytones and I like them for the extreme cushioning. I'm not so concerned about the toning aspect but I find that the bubbles on the sole help cushion my step when I'm walking around SF. When I underestimate the height of a curb and step off hard my spine is no longer jarred by the step. The toning cushioning just helps smooth out rough pavement for me. That makes them worth the price for me.
oliveoyle625 oliveoyle625 7 years
Was always so curious about these shoes. Thanks FItsugar, just saved me some money. Guess I won't get a pair after all.
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