By: Marc Ransford—
Muncie, IN—Lacing up a comfortable pair of athletic shoes before hitting the shopping mall this holiday season is highly recommended by Ball State’s Henry Wang, an exercise science professor who studies biomechanics in the university’s College of Health.
He points out that athletic shoes designed for walking or running offer several benefits,including improving comfort, providing cushioning, enhancing support and promoting range of motion.
“There are several studies that show the average person will spend two to three hours on visiting different stores during a single trip during the holiday shopping season. During this time, you could walk 10,000 to 12,000 steps, which is beyond the level (7,000 to 8,000 steps daily) recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine to maintain good health.”—Henry Wang
Wang points out that going shopping is a good walking workout and provides some resistance training as people often lug around heavy bags filled with purchases.
“When we are out doing our shopping, our leg muscles are firing in sequence to power every step to overcome gravity and body mass,” he said. “Corresponding to the number of steps taken during a typical shopping trip in the mall, there are a lot of contractions performed by the leg muscles. This becomes a big challenge forthose small intrinsic foot muscles, which are less fatigue-resistant.”
Common symptoms associated with distance walking include foot and leg muscle fatigue, sore feet and blisters, which increase when you wear shoes not designed to handle lots of walking.
Wang points out that athletic shoes:
- Increase the contact area between the shoe and the foot to enhance comfort, reducing stress on the foot and the risk of developing blisters.
- Have soft midsoles to cushion the body on each step, reducing the ground force impact and protecting the body from overuse injuries.
- Provide wider foot support to enhance stability and balance while reducing the risk of falls.
- Help stabilize the foot, lessening the chance of foot muscle fatigue and soreness.
- Have flat soles, which let leg muscles lengthen and shorten over a great range of motion, reducing soreness from long periods of walking.
“Keep in mind that the amount of walking involved in a shopping trip is far more than going from the parking lot to the entrance of the department stores,” Wang said.
“Shopping in the mall is, indeed, a decent workout, which does require some preparations in the form of choosing appropriate workout attire. Wearing athletic shoes for walking could make the shopping experience more pleasant.”