Walking is one of the best low-impact and highly effective exercises for people of any age, including older adults. It can help with blood circulation, balance, stability, provide pain relief, and so much more. However, it is extremely important that you have the right footwear for safety and comfort.
Without comfortable walking shoes and the proper clothing, it is less likely for seniors to take part in physical activity. When shopping for walking shoes for seniors, comfort and functionality are the key factors to consider.
Finding a pair of walking shoes with a velcro strap, wide toe box, and grippy rubber sole can help give seniors the confidence to stay fit and active.
As seniors get older, they are more prone to experiencing foot problems like plantar fasciitis, swollen feet, and toe deformities. In fact, foot pain in older adults is associated with a 62 percent increased risk of recurrent falls. This is why prioritizing foot health can help seniors walk more safely, as long as they pick a good pair for their foot shape.
As people's body mass index increases from normal values to obesity, the chances of getting foot pain also increase as they get older. This is due to the added weight and pressure on the foot, causing heel pain and other issues.
Since swollen feet make it less likely for people to want to engage in physical activity, this can lead to a vicious cycle of more weight gain over time.
As people age, they start to lack ample cushioning under their feet. Those who overtrain or get cortisone injections may speed up fat loss in their feet. With the reduction of fat padding, it can feel like a person is walking on rocks or marbles.
To address this issue, wearing the right shoes is more important than ever. This can involve buying insoles or gel pads to put in your shoes, in areas such as the heel, ball of your foot, or beside a bunion.
As people get older, they are also more prone to certain foot ailments. One of the most common is plantar fasciitis, which is a pain in the bottom of the heel. Other common foot issues impacting the elderly include posterior tibial tendonitis, Achilles tendinitis, and big toe arthritis.
To combat these, doing balance exercises for seniors, cycling, swimming, and some basic stretches may be helpful in the long run.
People who smoke or have diabetes might have reduced blood flow to the feet. Poor foot circulation can be an issue because it can cause pain and discomfort. It may also take longer for wound and tissue healing due to the lack of blood flow.
Those with circulatory issues should look for walking shoes that have added depth and adjustable straps to make room for swelling. A soft lining for added comfort is also ideal, while supportive insoles can provide natural arch support to the foot.
With all the different types of walking shoes on the market today, it can be difficult to narrow them down. The ideal walking shoes offer a combination of both function and style, so here are factors that you should consider when shopping for the best walking shoes for seniors today.
A rubber outsole or slip-resistant sole can provide a better grip on wet, uneven, and slippery surfaces. This is because the interlocked tread pattern keeps the water away from your foot. This can be helpful for seniors who have trouble keeping their balance.
Seniors with mobility issues should look for alternatives to traditional laces. This is because a velcro strap, hook, or alternative closure makes it faster and easier to put on and take off shoes without bending down.
However, it can be more difficult to get a customized fit. Despite this, adjustable velcro straps can be found in most walking shoes for seniors.
Conditions like diabetes and obesity mean that a wider footbed can be more helpful. Wide feet tend to require extra space to breathe, so such shoes with more toe room can accommodate swelling and allow seniors to put on shoes with greater ease.
Ideally, seniors should avoid flip-flops and slippers with no backs when choosing slippers. Shoes for the elderly should have close backs and be well-fitted to prevent any slippage.
In addition, shoes with a high back can provide more support for the ankles which can be handy if your foot rolls outward.
For all-day comfort and wear, shoes with good arch support and a padded heel cup can give you an added level of cushioning, which can come in handy during long walks. Supportive walking shoes have better shock absorption, reducing the strain on the hips, knees, and back.
To prevent sweat from building up, a breathable mesh upper is suitable for walking shoes and athletic shoes. They allow heat to escape, keeping feet cool during warmer weather.
Some materials to look for include a cotton or canvas upper which can be found in most casual shoes. In addition, lightweight material can also reduce the weight of the shoe and prevent fatigue.
Shoes for the elderly should have a low heel. This is because high heels can increase instability and cause turned ankles and other painful injuries. A low heel provides a more stable base and greater support, especially for walking shoes. Low heels are also much more suitable for walking long distances.
If seniors have special needs, some walking shoes can accommodate custom orthotic inserts so that the insole can be replaced. Shoes with removable insoles provide added flexibility in case you need greater anatomical arch support for aging feet.
During rainy weather, even the best walking shoes, and running shoes can get wet, which can be very unpleasant if you are wearing socks. This can lead to blisters developing since your skin becomes more soft and vulnerable to abrasions.
Choosing shoes with waterproofing features such as a brushed nylon lining can prevent your feet and socks from getting soaked. However, not everyone needs waterproof shoes. Some shoes may dry quickly after a mild soaking so it's not a must-have in every situation.
This list of some of the best walking shoes for seniors includes the most comfortable shoes for both men and women. They provide excellent arch support, have a grooved rubber sole, and can be used for other types of physical activity.
This table helps you compare the different types of walking shoes for men and women based on features such as cost, material, cushion, and traction.
|Product||ASICS Men's Gel-Venture 7||Skechers Men's Equalizer Double Play Slip-On Loafer||YHOON Women's Walking Shoes||Propet Women's Travelactiv Fashion Sneaker||Merrell Men's Encore Gust Slip-On Shoe|
|Cost||$39.99 - $149.00||$34.78 - $171.81||$28.99 - $38.99||$16.95 - $133.99||$88.93 - $132.54|
|Material||Synthetic and Mesh uppers||Knit Mesh Uppers||Mesh Upper||Synthetic Mesh||Full Grain Leather Upper|
|Cushion||GEL cushion||Gel Memory Foam||Air Cushion||EVA Insole||Air Cushion|
|Product||Reebok Women's Princess Fitness Lace-Up Fashion Sneaker||Skechers Sport Women's Skech Air Run High Fashion Sneaker||Propet Women's Tour Walker Strap Sneaker||Ryka Women's Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe||New Balance Women's Walking Shoes|
|Cost||$32.97 - $99.00||$39.95 - $69.95||$23.74 - $109.99||Currently unavailable||$34.93 - $149.95|
|Material||Synthetic Leather||Synthetic Mesh||Genuine Leather uppers||Synthetic||Synthetic Leather|
|Cushion||Padded Foam||Air cushion||EVA Midsole||Re-zorb cushioning||Soft comfort collar|
The ASICS men's GEL-VENTURE 7 is a performance trail running shoe for seniors. It is one of the best shoes for those who enjoy walking, running, and hiking, since the GEL technology in the rearfoot area of the shoe provides shock absorption where you need it most, while the ORTHOLITE sockliner provides an additional layer of cushioning underfoot.
The synthetic leather provides extra support from the top and cushions your feet from rocks and other debris, while the heel counter on the inside helps keep your foot in place while walking, promoting a more natural side. In addition, the EVA midsole creates a spring in your step and provides more energy as your foot rebounds against the ground.
|Sockliner provides high breathability||Some issues with fit and sizing|
|GEL technology promotes comfort and offers good arch support||Build quality could be improved|
|Comes in plenty of styles and colors||Regular sizing be too narrow for those with wide feet|
This Skechers loafer is an engineered mesh slip-on with gel-infused memory foam. The shoe has a soft fabric shoe lining and 1 1/4 inch heel height. Although it is not waterproof, it dries very quickly making it a good everyday shoe. It is quick and easy to slip on and can be used for walks, errands, and other physical activities.
An extremely lightweight shoe, they are one of the best walking shoes for seniors thanks to the foam base. Unlike many shoes for the elderly, they can be worn straight from the box without a long break-in period. They can also be paired with most clothing options and come in a variety of colors to suit men's needs.
|Easy to put on and take off||Run slightly wide|
|Lightweight shoe makes it comfortable to walk all day||May wear out easily over time|
|Breathable mesh makes it a good choice for warmer weather||Fit lacks customization|
The YHOON women's walking shoe is a stylish option. It comes with a unique MD + Air Cushion sole. The easy slip-on sock-style means it can be pulled on and off easily, and it comes in a variety of fun colorways to match every outfit. The breathable upper makes it a good choice for warmer weather while the fur-lined option provides some warmth in cold weather.
The soft air cushion makes the shoe bouncy and it is a good choice for daily walking, casual wear, shopping, travel, driving, and outdoor sports. The price of this walking shoe is also extremely affordable compared to most options on the market today. However, some seniors may find the heel height too high or the design a little too futuristic for daily wear.
|Affordable price compared to most walking shoes||Wide toe box might not suit everyone|
|Suitable for those with plantar fasciitis and flat feet||Foot bed might be too narrow for those with wider feet|
|Slip on design and breathable mesh uppers makes it suitable for walking and most sports||Padding might take a while to break in|
The Propet Travelactive shoe is a good casual daily shoe that stands up to regular use. It comes in a variety of widths for a more customized fit and plenty of neutral and bright colors depending on your preference. It has a relatively roomy toe box and a breathable upper mesh material making it suitable for most outdoor activities.
They can also be washed in the washing machine in the event that they get dirty. The black colorway also has a black sole that shows dirt much less easily than white soles. They are also lightweight and comfortable with good arch support.
|Available in 5 different widths from Narrow, to Wide, Extra Wide, and Extra Extra Wide||Lace up design might not be the best design for seniors|
|Flexible shoe||The width could be improved|
|Removable footbed can accommodate orthotics||Loops could be strengthened|
For a more formal look, the Merrell Encore comes in 100% full-grain leather. It has an M-Select GRIP sole to prevent slips and falls on wet surfaces. The heel measures approximately 2", providing seniors with a little extra height. The sole is very supportive and the padded collar prevents blisters around the ankle.
In addition, the Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs impacts, preventing stress on the knees and the back. The compression-molded EVA foot frame provides stability and comfort along with the Ortholite footbed, while the breathable mesh lining wicks to keep feet dry after long walks.
|Sleek leather shoe suitable for all dress and casual wear||May not be suitable for exercise|
|Orthopedic shoes with ortholite footbead||Not the best on slippery surfaces|
|Easy to put on and take off||Sizing may be inaccurate|
Since the 1980s, Reebok has taken pride in this model. It is made of 100% Synthetic Leather for soft support and comfort, with a sleek rubber sole. The die-cut EVA midsole is perfect for walks and jobs, while the soft terry lining absorbs moisture keeping you cool and dry no matter the weather.
The padded sockliner adds to the lightweight cushioning and shock absorption, making it one of the best stylish shoes for seniors. It is available in a white and black colorway that is perfect for casual outings, light sporting activities, and both long and short walks.
|Leather uppers are easy to clean||Not made with genuine leather|
|Versatile shoes can be used for walking and casual wear||Lace up style may not be the right fit for seniors with mobility issues|
|Reasonable price point||Padding could be thicker|
The Skechers Skech-Air shoe is perfect for all types of sports including walking, running, or cross-training. It is a lace-up shoe with a knitted knitted jersey fabric upper with a melange effect and gel-infused memory foam insole as well as improved shock absorption compared to previous models.
It comes in many different combinations of blue, pink, black, grey, and turquoise. They are suitable for gym use or for hiking trails, with a grippy nonmarking sole and plenty of cushions to prevent discomfort from sharp rocks and hard pavements.
|Affordable price for an active sneaker||May wear out during heavy exercise|
|Lightweight sole makes all day comfort possible||Not suitable for dressy occasions|
|Comes in plenty of different colors||No velcro closures|
The Propet Tour Walker Velcro shoe for women is made with a full-grain leather upper with a twin-strap closure system, and a cushioned EVA midsole with herringbone tread rubber It is available in 5 different widths from narrow to XX and comes in a variety of colorways including Black, Taupe, White/Berry, White/Blue, Sport White, and White.
It is a high-quality option for seniors looking for high-quality and long-lasting shoes since the velcro strap is easy to put on and take off even with limited mobility. Its perforated upper will give you total breathability, while the padded lining, roomy toe box, and comfort are well-rated by reviewers.
|Dual strap velcro closure is easy to put on and take off||May need some time to break in|
|Coded for reimbursement under the Medicare Therapeutic Shoes for Persons with Diabetes Benefit||Non slip grip can be improved|
|Feature footbeds that can be removed to accommodate custom orthotics||Velcro straps could be longer|
The Ryka Devotion Plus 3 provides a fashion-forward update to the top-rated Devotion Plus 2, with an iridescent design across the entire shoe. It provides a special fit for women, with a firm heel counter, plenty of cushions, and all-day comfort.
These walking shoes are recommended by many reviewers for those with flat feet. The insoles are very soft and well-formed, while the lightweight shoe makes it suitable for plenty of athletic activities.
|Comfortable shoes due to anatomical arch support||Color may bleed and transfer to socks|
|Good support for the heel||Laces may not be suitable for everyone|
|Cushion provides good impact protection and shock absorption||Only available for women|
These New Balance shoes come in black, taupe, and white colorways. They are one of the best shoes for those looking for a hook and loop closure and adjustable velcro strap closures. It combines supportive cushioning and a soft leather upper to cradle your foot for the duration of your walk.
The special Rollbar at the sole helps seniors maintain mobility as they walk, and it also comes in an extra wide size to accommodate wider or swollen feet.
|Hook and loop closure provides a custom fit without laces||Seam across toe may cause blisters|
|The insole can be removed and replaced||Quality could be improved since it is not made in the USA|
|Velcro straps are sturdy and supportive||Sizing may be inconsistent|
Since men and women have different foot and body shapes in terms of the way the hips and pelvis are built, they may require different types of walking shoes. Walking shoes should also fulfill different needs than running shoes.
Walking shoes tend to support arches and the area in which the greatest impact occurs to your feet. They are also more flexible to give you a greater range of motion as you walk.
On the other hand, athletic shoes tend to be slightly heavier and less flexible than walking shoes. A good pair of walking shoes should also prevent the formation of blisters and calluses.
This can encourage seniors to stay active by increasing their distance, speed, and endurance over time. By investing in a walking shoe that's right for you, you can commit to a healthy and injury-free walking schedule, building a consistent routine to keep you fit as you age. Shoes for the elderly tend to have special features such as removable insoles, added cushioning, velcro straps, and a firm heel counter.
Those who may want to invest in a good walking shoe include:
The best walking shoes can help keep your feet healthy, encourage you to take part in physical activity, and help keep your body safe from injury and stress. Ideally, you should aim to choose a shoe that fits your foot shape, is suitable for the activity you aim to do, addresses any issues with your feet, and provides enough support for your feet, legs, and joints.
To find the best shoes for your elderly loved ones’ needs, it's best to read online reviews and compare several different models. You may find the same shoes at different price ranges, and depending on the way your foot is shaped you may need your own custom orthotics.
Those looking for the right shoes for walking should find a lightweight option with extra shock absorption in the heel and under the ball of your foot. These are common stress points and finding extra padding can reduce pain, burning, and tenderness as you walk.
Seniors looking for shoes for short distances may not need the same shoe as seniors who plan on walking or running further distances. Depending on your needs, lace up or velcro shoes may also be appropriate. Having the right shoe can protect against shin splints, tendonitis, heel pain, stress fractures and other overuse injuries.
If you can, it is a good idea to start shoe shopping after you exercise or later in the day. This is because your feet tend to swell up as they warm up, and if you buy them sooner your shoes may fit too tight when your feet are at their largest.
To get the best fit, you should also wear the same type and thickness of sock you are planning to wear for the activity. You should also wiggle your toes as you wear your shoes to ensure there is enough room as you walk or run. Rely on your instincts as you wear them since they should be comfortable as soon as you put them on. Breaking them in may not work later on.
After you put on the shoes, don't be afraid to walk around the store and try them on carpet, hard flooring, and climbing up and downstairs. This will help you see whether they work for you or if there is any slippage. Ideally, the shoes should grip the back of your heel and they should not slip in the shoes when you move.
Although most people are concerned with the length of a shoe, don't overlook its width. Shoes often come in a variety of widths, so you may need to get a wider fit if the ball of your foot feels squashed. In these cases, sizing up in length may not necessarily help.
Before buying a shoe, you should also check the inside of the shoes to find any tags, seams, or other material that might irritate your foot and cause pain. Don't forget to look at the soles to see if they are thick enough to cushion your foot and provide enough grip.
If you don't find the right fit, any physical activity may place too much pressure on your feet, ankles, lower legs and other body parts. This can lead to pain and injuries down the line. Lower back pain, ingrown nails, corns, and bunions can also limit you from being physically fit.
While it may be tempting to do so, you should also avoid buying the cheapest pair you can find. Paying more for high-quality shoes means that you'll have footwear that can stand up to the trials of daily wear.
It’s more cost-efficient in the long run since you'll probably have to replace a cheap pair sooner than you'll think due to the compromise in build quality and materials. Features like memory foam, custom orthotic inserts, and premium leather uppers may raise the cost significantly but it'll be worth it in terms of comfort and longevity.
Wearing the right walking shoes is paramount to getting the most out of your strolls. It’s important to invest in a good pair to avoid putting stress on your feet, reduce the risk of blisters, and make sure that your unique needs are taken care of.
Wearing the proper kind of shoes can help give proper support and flexibility. It also gives good cushioning for comfortable walking and avoiding slips while using rollators for individuals who need assistance.
For more tips on walking tools for seniors, be sure to check out some of our previous articles. Visit the rest of Senior Strong to learn more!
Elizabeth Kogut works as the editorial head of Senior Strong. Armed with her degree in Nursing from the University of Missouri, Elizabeth ensures that all the site’s content is relevant to seniors today.