I’ve been pretty religious about walking my dogs in the morning. And I’m also starting to park at the edge of the parking lot of the grocery store so I can do a little more walking. So since I’ve embraced walking as one of my most used workouts, I keep thinking that I should check into those sneakers with a rocker bottom that are being advertised as promoting toning and calorie-burning.
However, a new study by the American Council on Exercise has caused me to reevaluate this potential purchase. ACE is dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective health and fitness products, programs and trends. ACE accomplishes this through ongoing extensive research and studies in all areas of health and fitness, as well as public education regarding scientifically sound health and fitness practices.
Dubbed the "workout watchdog" by The Wall Street Journal in 1997, ACE has established a reputation as a consumer advocate. Since 1995, ACE has enlisted the expertise of top researchers at major universities across the country to conduct studies on fitness products and trends. In some cases, these studies have prompted the Federal Trade Commission to take action against several companies making false claims.
So what has ACE’s research found? The council worked with a team of exercise scientists from the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, to research Skechers Shape-Ups, MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) and Reebok Easy Tone. The researchers designed a pair of studies. The first study evaluated exercise responses to talking in a traditional pair of New Balance running shoes and the toning shoes. The study’s subjects were 12 physically active female volunteers, ages 19-24, who completed a dozen five-minute exercise trials in which they walked on a treadmill at various speeds and elevations for five minutes wearing each type of shoe. The researchers monitored each subject’s oxygen consumption, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and caloric expenditure.
The second study was focused on muscle activation when walking in the toning shoes and the regular athletic shoes. Researchers recruited a second group of 12 physically active female volunteers, ages 21-27, who performed a similar battery of treadmill trials while randomly wearing the shoes. Researchers measured muscle activity in the calf, quads, hamstrings, buttocks, back and abs as the subjects walked on the treadmill in each of the four pairs of shoes.
What were the results of the research? “Across the board, none of the toning shoes showed statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation during any of the treadmill trials. There is simply no evidence that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone,” stated Mark Anders, who wrote ACE’s publication about the study.