What if you could burn calories, firm muscles, and reduce stress on your joints just by wearing a specially designed pair of sports shoes? Sound too good to be true? Apparently, it is, says the American Council on Exercise (ACE), which released findings on the effectiveness of popular toning shoes claiming to have an "unstable sole design" that tones your body and burns extra calories in ways different from ordinary shoes.
An independent research study found no evidence that the shoes, which include Skechers Shape-Ups, Reebok EasyTone, and MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology), help wearers burn calories, improve tone and muscle strength, or exercise more intensely.
"Toning shoes appear to promise a quick-and-easy fitness solution, which we realize people are always looking for," ACE's Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., said in a statement. "Unfortunately, these shoes do not deliver the fitness or muscle toning benefits they claim. Our findings demonstrate that toning shoes are not the magic solution consumers were hoping they would be, and simply do not offer any benefits that people cannot reap through walking, running, or exercising in traditional athletic shoes."
The council asked scientists to evaluate the shoes. They conducted two studies with groups of physically active women. One study concentrated on measuring the muscle activation that takes place while wearing toning shoes versus walking with traditional athletic shoes, and the other explored the exercise intensity claims.
All three toning shoes tested showed no difference in exercise intensity or muscle activation when compared with traditional New Balance running shoes, even though manufacturers cite studies "proving" the shoes' effectiveness.
Sketchers disagreed with the study's results, saying other evidence "supports the benefits, particularly relating to increased muscle activation, greater energy consumption, increased metabolic rates, and the strengthening and toning of certain muscles.”
"There may be one positive effect these shoes offer," Bryant said. "The motivation factor. If these shoes are serving as a motivator for individuals to walk or get moving more often, that is a good thing, even if they don't produce the dramatic toning and calorie-burning results people think they are getting." Bryant goes on to add that "it is important to note that, based on the results of this study, it appears that consumers can more economically achieve the same results wearing normal running shoes."