Find Your Solemate With 5 Easy-to-Follow Flowcharts

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Wearing the correct shoes while exercising can mean the difference between a comfortable workout and one filled with pain or injury. But with thousands of workout shoes on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? Use the questions in following five guides to narrow down your options and find your perfect "solemate."

Start by choosing your primary activity from the list below:


While it can be tempting to shop for the biggest bargain at your local department store, investing in a quality running shoe is money well spent. Wearing poor quality shoes that don’t fit your unique anatomy and training goals can result in problems down the line. A good running shoe will offer the right amount of cushion, flexibility and breathability, but what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

In order to determine the right running shoe, it helps to know a little bit about your foot type (low, normal or high arch) as well as your pronation, or how much the foot rolls in or out when it makes contact with the ground. Most specialty running stores offer a free analysis of your foot and gait to help you find the best shoe for you. 



Purchasing a quality walking shoe is a smart investment if walking is your preferred mode of exercise. Although some running shoes can be used for walking, the inverse isn't usually true. Walking shoes are more flexible through the ball of the foot to allow a greater range of motion through the roll of the forefoot. They also have greater arch support to protect where the force is heaviest on the foot. The type of walking shoe you need will depend on a number of factors, including your foot and the typical walking terrain.

Aerobics/Cross-Training/Team Sports

Cross-trainers or aerobic shoes are suitable for a variety of activities other than walking or running. They are also an option if you participate in many different kinds of activities without a primary mode of exercise dominating your workout schedule. If variety is the key to your exercise routine, cross-trainers might be better (and less expensive) than buying a number of activity-specific shoes. Cross-trainers tend to have a wider outsole, additional support for the heels and legs and lateral support all over, which is important for the side-to-side motion of activities like aerobics classes and certain sports.  

If you do participate frequently in a specific sport like basketball or tennis, it's worth investing in a shoe designed for the sport and the surface on which you'll be playing. You can even find shoes for aquatic activities such as water aerobics that help increase the force of buoyancy in the water and also help protect the foot from minor cuts and scrapes.


Cycling shoes have a stiffer sole that gives extra support and efficient energy transfer as you pedal away. They also protect your feet while riding and can help prevent foot cramping and fatigue more effectively than a traditional shoe. The type of bike pedal you have at home or use in the studio will also determine the kind of shoe needed. For example, platform pedals don't require a special type of footwear, but clipless pedals require special shoes that have a cleat fitted into the sole.


Weightlifting can encompass a wide variety of workouts, from a strength training video at home to a CrossFit class that incorporates Olympic powerlifting and plyometrics. The type of workouts you do will determine which kind of shoe is best.  

SparkPeople Picks: 

The staff at SparkPeople are no strangers to pounding the pavement. Which is why, when asked to name their favorite shoe, it came as no surprise that walking and running styles topped the list. 

Favorite overall running/walking shoe: ASICS Gel-Nimbus 
Runners Up: Saucony Ride, ASICS Gel-Excite 2, Nike SB Check Solarsoft Skate Shoe 

In general, if you are participating in an activity more than a few times each week, it’s a good idea to buy a shoe designed specifically for it. It can be tempting to buy the first pair of shoes you find on sale, but many times, you get what you pay for. Poor-quality shoes can lead to poor-quality results (and injury), so do your homework before deciding which shoe is right for you. Your body will thank you for it.

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Thanks! Report
WHITEANGEL4 6/21/2021
Thanks for the great information Report
TZVI-R 5/8/2021
Thanks! Report
It would be great if this could be updated with new links. Greats shoes but years outdated on the models. The ASICS Nimbus and the Gel Excite are great. Right now I'm wearing Salomon X Ultra 3 and I love them. Report
TZVI-R 4/28/2021
Thanks! Report
WHITEANGEL4 3/23/2021
Thanks Report
DIVAGLOW 3/19/2021
Some good info, thanks! Report
BIKE4HEALTH 3/17/2021
NANHBH 3/9/2021
Good shoes are everything! Report
CECELW 2/15/2021
interesting article. might be a bit outdated though Report
TERMITEMOM 2/11/2021
This article is 7 years old! Please update! Report
CD6913562 1/31/2021
You never really realize the importance of proper footwear until you find the right shoes. Report
SHERYE 1/25/2021
Very helpful Report
DJ4HEALTH 1/19/2021
Thank you Report
WHITEANGEL4 1/13/2021
Thanks Report
NANASUEH 1/13/2021
thanks Report
BOBJ21 1/9/2021
Two major critics: 1 Men also exercise and would benefit from this type of guidance. Every recommendation is for women. 2. This needs to be updated. Every recommendation I checked is for a shoe that is no longer available Report
MUSICNUT 12/31/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
NANASUEH 12/11/2020
thanks Report
CATNAP6291 12/7/2020
thanks Report
TERMITEMOM 12/6/2020
The Merrell Moab is my choice for hiking! Report
CATNAP6291 11/4/2020
thanks Report
MJ7DM33 10/18/2020
Thanks Report
CD6913562 9/23/2020
It is not easy to find good walking shoes when you have an extremely wide foot. Report
This article keeps coming up. I guess someone is trying to convince me that I need forty or fifty different pairs of shoes. I do have four though! Report
BOB5148 9/4/2020
Thanks Report
RACHAEL2020 8/18/2020
Brooks Report
So many choices! At my age there are two, make that three criteria. Do they look good? Do they feel good? Do they cost less than my car note? Report
WHITEANGEL4 8/6/2020
Thanks for the info Report
CKEYES1 7/30/2020
New Balance shoes are my favorite. Comes in wide width Report
Great graphics!! Report
I actually went to a running store. I was given two choices - Brooks and Asics. I went with the Asics. I overpronate, they seem to work for me. I have found when I'm overweight, my knees an feet hurt no matter what shoe I wear. Report
Great information to know when you are buying new shoes. Report
So many choices but I love minimalist type whenever going to gym. Report
Thank You.................. Report
Interesting article. Too bad men do not need shoes. All recommendations link to women's shoes. Would be helpful if first decision point was: Are you male or female. Then have the decision tables link to the appropriate gender shoes. Report
Interesting read but so far beyond my needs to get my 73 year old body from here to there! LOL Report
Too many choices! Report
Thank you for the advice Report
Thanks for the great info Report
New Balance are my Go To. They come in wide width Report
This is mind boggling. I keep coming back to this article but the specifics of each shoe are so much more specific than my needs! Report
It also matters that they look good! Report
So many choices! Report
So many choices!

In my super-annuated state (older) I do not really need special shoes for each activity because I do not do anything with enough intensity to justify the expense. A good comfortable pair of shoes that fits right. Report
Thanks Report
Sometimes, we don't know how important a shoe can be, SparkFriends. A lesson learned Report
very helpful Report
I have the perfect shoes for me. Report
I'm having fun using this chart and looking for new footwear. Thx! Report