Looking to lace-up your trainers and get active in the new year? It doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s easy to think of exercise as high impact sports, running, or classes at the gym. Such activities are great for keeping fit – but they’re not for everyone. Classes can be expensive and are scheduled for specific times, which might not fit in with your lifestyle. Plus, not everybody’s body is geared towards running or high impact sports.
Rejoice! There is an alternative activity that’s suited to almost everyone, and you do it every day without thinking. Walking comes with a myriad of benefits that you might not even notice as you’re pottering around the garden, browsing the shops, or walking the dog across a muddy field. If you’re wondering how to get fit in 2022 – but are seeking a low impact activity that can be worked into your everyday lifestyle – walking is the way to go!
As with running, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a decent pair of trainers for days when you want to make a conscious effort to incorporate walking into your routine. Unlike running however, there’s no need to invest in a wildly expensive pair of trainers, as long as you choose your walking trainers and their features with care.
Not sure what you’re looking for? Don’t worry – we’ve made it easy. Using examples, we’ve broken down the features you should keep an eye out for when looking at purchasing a pair of walking trainers.
While we’ve included a couple examples of shoes for light trail walking – if you’re aiming a bit higher (up the mountain!) we recommend looking at walking boots which will provide better overall support for your ankles while tackling tough terrain.
Does Walking Get You Fit?
Need motivation to get out into the great outdoors?
Walking comes with a whole host of benefits for your body. Studies show a brisk walk is good for the heart, helps with weight loss, and helps to lower the risk of developing serious conditions such as type two diabetes and heart disease.
Depending on where you walk, walking is a relatively low-impact activity. This means that, unlike running or sports, it doesn’t take a serious toll on your body. In other words, after a good walk you might find that your legs are tired, but you’re unlikely to experience the aches and pains associated with recovering from high-impact sports and running. That said, if you’re experiencing severe pain and walking proves difficult for you, it’s important to speak to your doctor who will know how best to help you.
Take some time to establish your goals. Are you looking for a way to boost your energy levels, lose weight and shake off the sluggish winter? Are you looking to increase muscle strength so you can walk further and faster?
For Charlie Bird, his motivation to climb Croagh Patrick Mountain comes from his own diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. Raising money for Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta House, Charlie hopes to highlight the individual mountains those living with severe mental and physical illnesses climb every day.
Of course, striving for a goal will help keep your motivation up – but it’s also important to keep your walking within the realms of what you’re capable of. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits.
Instead, see your walks as valuable me-time and use it wisely. You could listen to music, or a favourite podcast or radio show, go bird spotting or use the time to simply enjoy what nature has to offer. Alternatively, you could walk with a friend or friends and have a catch up as you go. Many of us adopted this form of bonding during lockdown as a way, not only to keep in touch with nature, but also with each other. Not to mention, you can support and motivate your walking buddy (or buddies), and they can do the same for you - encouraging you both to get up, get active and keep up the hard work.
Aside from physical benefits, walking is also good for our minds. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere near a park, woods, or other wild landscape, walking through nature helps to clear our minds and put us back in touch with the world around us. Next time you’re out and about, take a moment to pause and breathe in the fresh air, notice the sounds around you, and the ground beneath your trainer treads.
What to Look for in Walking Trainers
Memory Foam Footbeds
Memory foam footbeds are a must-have if you’re seeking excellent comfort and support. Self-moulding memory foam footbeds moulds over time to fit the shape of the wearer’s foot, meaning the more you wear them the comfier they become! Memory foam trainers are great for reliable comfort whether you’re tackling the pavement, park, or hills.
Best Memory Foam Trainers for Men
Providing custom comfort, tailored to the wearer’s foot over time, these memory foam trainers are the ones to reach for if you’re looking to go the distance.
- Memory foam footbed moulds to the foot to provide excellent overall support.
- Traditional lace-up fastening for a secure fit.
- Lightweight so they won’t slow you down.
- Breathable upper means that even if you pick up the pace, your feet will stay cool.
- Flexible traction outsole for greater grip, minimising the chance of slipping.
- Shock-absorbing properties reduce overall foot fatigue.
Best Memory Foam Trainers for Women
Pavements and dirt trails: meet your match! The memory foam footbeds in these quick little trainers offer support and comfort wherever you roam.
- Memory foam insole moulds to the shape of the foot to provide custom support and comfort.
- Lace-up fastening ensures a secure fit.
- Shock absorbing properties reduce the impact of each step, preventing aches and pains in your feet and legs.
- Breathable upper means your feet will stay cool throughout your walk.
- Lightweight flexible traction outsole that will bend and flex with the movement of the foot and provide greater grip.
Lightweight Walking Trainers
Lightweight walking trainers are particularly good for spring and summer when heavy boots can get uncomfortably hot. These walking trainers are designed for paths that require a little more grip. Reach for these when you’re looking to tackle dusty trails, country lanes, and muddy fields.
Best Lightweight Walking Trainers for Men
Ideal for walking and hiking alike, these trail trainers are less bulky than walking boots: making it a smooth transition between the pavement and the great outdoors.
- Protective leather upper with breathable mesh inserts to keep your feet cool as you walk.
- Padded lining and cuff to prevent rubbing.
- Cushioned footbed for added support and comfort.
- Thick outdoor-equipped traction sole to provide better grip.
- Water resistant to help keep your feet warm and dry.
- Well-suited to walks in the woods, muddy fields, and light trails.
Best Lightweight Walking Trainers for Women
Don’t be fooled by their slim silhouette, these light trail trainers by trusted footwear brand Sketchers – designed exclusively for Pavers – are made for walking.
- Slip-on style with bungee laces makes for exceptionally easy put-on and flexible wear.
- Gripped rubber sole allows for greater traction on dusty trails.
- Shock absorbing properties reduce the impact of each step, preventing foot fatigue.
- Low-cut, lightweight profile these trainers are easily stowed away in a rucksack or luggage. In other words, these trainers can travel!
Now you know how to put your best foot forward – what are you waiting for?
Trails to Test your Trainers On
If the park or local woods just won’t cut it and you’re looking to escape it all for a few hours, why not venture a little further? Wild coastlines, fast-moving rivers, and historical ruins: just some of the breath-taking scenery you can expect to find on our top picks for walking trails in Ireland.
The Malin Head Coastal Walk - Donegal
Beginning in the Lloyd’s Tower car park, the Malin Head trail takes you along a stretch of rugged coastline towards the northernmost point in Ireland; a watchtower called Banba’s Crown. This looping trail will take roughly 1.5 hours, with plenty to see along the way. Since it’s a coastal path, many who walk the trail report spotting whales and sharks in the sea below, and, when the weather conditions are just right, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the glittering Northern Lights above!
The Fairy Castle Loop Walk - Dublin
If you’re looking to escape the city for an hour or two, then this trail is ideal. Wending its way through the Dublin mountains, this trail offers breath-taking views on Dublin Bay, Bray Head and the surrounding mountains. This trail is helpfully marked out by green markers which should keep you on track, as it’s easy get distracted by the wild landscape.
At the top of Two-Rock Mountain is the Fairy Castle – a Neolithic passage tomb – from which the trail gets its name. This is an excellent spot to stop and take in the scenery.
River Walk at Dún na Rí Forest Park - Cavan
There’s lots of things to look at in the Dún na Rí Forest Park. Starting at Sarah’s Bridge there are four main trails to choose from, all have features steeped in history. Running riverside, discover the ruins of Fleming’s Castle and a Holy Well on the looping River Walk, in the knowledge that you’re walking the same ground as the Normans and Cromwell’s armies once did.
As a protected park this walk is home to several plants and animals, including red squirrels, rabbits and stoats, Irish hares, and pigmy shrews. Down by the river, you might even spot a mink or a family of otters.
The Torc Mountain Walk - Kerry
Stretch your legs a little further (and higher!) on the mighty Torc Mountain walk just outside of Killarney in Kerry. This trail takes around two to two and a half hours to trek across 7.5km of stunning scenery. Leaving from the Upper Torc car park, the trail takes you right up to the summit of Torc Mountain, offering views of both Killarney town and the wider National Park.
On the way, you’ll also spot the magical Torc Waterfall. Although not for the feint of heart, there’s a clear path throughout the trail, much of which is covered with a boardwalk that makes for an easier climb.
The Old Head of Kinsale Loop - Cork
The Old Head of Kinsale Loop is the perfect place to catch a breath of fresh air. Take in spectacular views from start to finish on a 6km trail that will take roughly take an hour and a half unless you stop to admire the scenery. Ramblers on this trail are likely to be blown away by the breath-taking winds whipped up by the Atlantic Sea all around this headland loop!