Are Toning Shoes For You?

Toning shoes are popular among many walkers, joggers and runners. Some makers claim that toning shoes can firm and tone your legs while helping you to burn more calories to lose weight. Makers of toning shoes claim their shoes are designed to simulate walking barefoot or walking on uneven terrain to make your leg muscles work harder with ever step. Do toning shoes really firm, tone and strengthen your legs while helping you to burn more calories? 
According to the Mayo Clinic’s Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., there is no evidence to support the claim that toning shoes give you a better leg workout or help you to burn more calories. Dr. Laskowski stated that there is no harm in wearing the shoes and wearers may benefit from wearing the shoes if owning and wearing a pair causes them to increase their physical activity. 
Photo Credit: Steve Ling CC-BY-2.0
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a study to test the effectiveness of toning shoes. ACE tested the comparative effectiveness of toning shoes against regular walking shoes and found no evidence to support the claims that toning shoes burn more calories, tone or strengthen muscles. Researchers stated that if owning a pair of toning shoes provided the wearer with the motivation to get more exercise generally, then the shoes provided some benefit. The ACE study did not address the potential effects on the wearer’s balance due to the unstable design of the shoe sole.
The bottom line on toning shoes seems to be they provide no additional benefit to the wearer when it comes to burning extra calories or strengthening and toning leg muscles. If you like them and owning a pair motivates you to get more exercise, that is definitely a plus for these shoes. 

Fun Exercise Ball Workout

Photo Credit: LocalFitness.com.au
An exercise ball, also called a balance ball, is a great piece of equipment to develop balance and muscle strength. The exercise ball comes in a variety of sizes so that almost everyone can find a size that fits their body type and the intensity of their workout. The balance ball works large and small muscle groups as well as stimulating proprioceptors for a total body workout. Proprioceptors are sensors in the body that tell us where our body is in space and in relation to other objects. Proprioceptors let us know where a part of our body is in relation to the rest of our body. We can tell without looking if our knees are bent or if our hand is raised. Working out on an exercise ball can help sharpen proprioceptors for improved balance. 
Squats on an exercise ball help develop your core muscles, including your abdominal muscles and glutes. Stand up straight with an exercise ball between your lower back and a wall. Lean against the ball and hold your hands at your sides with your hands on your hips. Point your toes forward and slide your feet about hip-width apart. Try to keep your feet flat on the floor, squeeze your abdominal muscles and slowly lower your body toward the floor as if you are going to sit down on a chair. Stop when the top of your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. If you can’t go all the way to a “sitting” position, go as low as you can without pain and hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds. Exhale and push your body back to standing position. Repeat this exercise for 5 to 10 repetitions.
Stretches and bridges are good way to strengthen your abdomen, back, neck, arms and leg muscles. Get on the floor on your hands and knees and place the exercise ball under your belly. Lift and extend your right arm and your left leg. Stretch your arm and leg away from the center of your body out to to the sides. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat this exercises with your left arm and your right leg. Breathe in and tighten your abs when stretching and then exhale when returning to the start position.  

Place the exercise ball on the floor and position it underneath your belly. Place your palms flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart with your fingers pointed forward. Keep your head, neck and spine in a straight line. Extend your legs in a straight line with your spine and slowly walk your body forward on  your hands. Keep your belly balanced on the ball and allow the ball to roll beneath your body. Go as far forward as you can. Beginners may want to stop when the ball is underneath their thighs. As you get stronger and your balance improves, walk forward until the ball is underneath your ankles. Walk back until the ball is back underneath your belly.