Do Toning Shoes Work?

Toning shoes claim to be able to tone your muscles more effectively than regular shoes. But do they work?

Credit: Reebok

Toning shoes promise to give you shapely legs and a firm behind, but is that really the case?

Reebok was recently ordered to refund $25 million to consumers for making false claims about its toning shoes

The news made big headlines in the fitness industry, as it finally seemed like companies were being held accountable for making bold claims about their products.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which imposed the order, took issue with some of the specific claims made by Reebok. It concluded the claims were unsubstantiated by evidence even though Reebok supposedly had studies proving the shoes caused increased activation in leg and hip muscles.

Shoddy Science behind Toning Shoes

While there were studies done I wouldn’t exactly call them very scientific. For one thing the sample size was small (12 participants) and the actual test lasted only 30 seconds.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a leading fitness organization in the U.S., conducted its own independent study to determine if Reebok’s claims held water.

While the ACE study had its own problems (small sample size, short test duration) it stil showed that toning shoes don’t increase muscle activation in the legs and hips as claimed. Read the ACE study and decide for yourself.

Reebok Shoes Are Comfortable, At Least

So does this mean the shoes are garbage?

Not necessarily. I’ve read accounts from actual users who found the shoes comfortable, making their workouts more enjoyable. And if you enjoy your workout more, chances are you’ll stick to your program and do more exercise.

But the distinction should be made that it’s the actual workout that’s going to give you stronger and more defined legs and hips, not simply wearing the shoes. And that assumes your body fat levels are low enough that you can show off your muscles.

My advice, if you like the fit of the shoes and they help you to exercise more: wear them. But don’t think that wearing the shoes for walking is going to do much more for your fitness than any other pair of shoes.