Whether you call them tennis shoes, sports shoe, sneakers, trainers, gym shoes, or kicks, odds are, you’ve got at least one pair lying around somewhere. We all do. The question is: How old are the tennis shoes, and how long do workout sneakers last?
If your exercise shoes just don’t seem to have the same ol’ spring or extra stability that they used to, it might be time to consider replacing the gym shoe . If, on the other hand, you give your workout shoes the proper care, you can help postpone their lifting retirement, and maybe even give them new life.
5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Exercise Shoe
When you get a new pair of exercise shoes, you want to know you’re getting your money’s worth for the best shoe. That starts with making sure you’re getting the right and best workout shoes of course. Whether it’s walking shoes for women or a comfortable sneaker, you want to ensure you are giving your weightlifting shoes the proper care and maintenance once you’ve got them.
Here are five ways you can ensure a long, healthy life for your favorite strength training footwear.
#1 Only Use Your Shoes for Their Intended Purpose
You wouldn’t use a hammer to repair your reading glasses, would you? Of course not. That’s not the right tool for the job. Likewise, you shouldn’t wear your running shoes on a hiking trail or to the grocery store—and that’s not just a fashion tip.
Shoes are made differently depending on their intended use. Running shoes are made, specifically, to hold up to the rigors of beating the pavement, but won’t do so well against the rocks and dirt you’ll encounter on a hiking trail.
There are distinct shoes for almost every kind of training activity you can think of—even different kinds of running shoes for different kinds of running. So, you can keep your exercise shoes around longer by only using them for precisely that—exercise.1
#2 Keep Your Kicks Well-Protected
There’s almost nothing worse for your workout sneakers than heat and moisture. These two things will quickly breed bacteria, and allow mold and mildew to grow, which can cause quite a stink.
But what happens if you tend to sweat a lot, or accidentally step into a puddle of muck? Firstly, do not put your exercise shoes in the dryer. The extreme heat can damage your shoes, and cause them to, quite literally, fall apart at the seams.
You do need to let them dry out, however. As soon as you get home from a particularly wet outing, be sure to:
- Take your shoes off as soon as you get in.
- Remove the insoles.
- Stuff your empty sneaker with something absorber (paper towels should do the trick)
- Lay them out somewhere dry overnight.
By morning, they should be ready to go.
#3 Rotate Your Stock
Another way to make sure your footwear stands the test of time? Try putting on a different pair. For example, if you have two different walking shoes for men, use one for the gym and one for everyday activities. That doesn’t mean you have to ditch your other sneakers entirely. Think of it, instead, as an opportunity for them to take a break on the sidelines while their substitute goes in to score a few points.
In the same way that we need to recharge after a demanding day, the foam insoles and midsoles that carry you around all day also need time to recover and regain their bounce for optimal arch support. Alternating days will give your workout shoe the time it needs to spring back into shape, ultimately helping to extend its lifespan.
Plus, it’s always a smart idea to have an extra pair of sport shoes, anyway—for those “just in case” moments.
#4 Practice Proper Shoe Care and Cleaning
With every mile you run and each trip you take to the gym, even the best workout shoes are bound to collect dirt and grime along the way. You don’t need to scrub them down thoroughly on a daily basis but a little upkeep could go a long way when it comes to extending their lifespan. If you are really nervous about the upkeep of your sneakers while wearing them around town, try out having a pair for at home workouts.
A quick wipe with a cloth as you get in the door is an easy way to stay ahead of build-up. However, if you do need to deep-clean your shoes, it’s best to keep them out of the washing machine and opt for a good hand-cleaning.
Here are a few helpful tips you can follow:
- Wipe them clean – Use a lightly damp cloth to dust away any loose dirt or dust. Then, allow them to air dry them in indirect sunlight.
- Skip the solvents – Most household cleaning products can be pretty harsh. Using them directly on your footwear may do more harm than good.
- Avoid extreme temperatures – Especially when it comes to drying your shoes, keep them out of the drying machine and direct sunlight.
- Don’t dry clean – The chemicals dry cleaners use are just as bad, if not worse, than household cleaners. Steer clear of them, if you can.
Looking for a smarter way to keep your kicks clean? Vionic offers a line of cleaners and conditioners, available both individually and as a kit. With these cleaning tools—specifically designed to tackle everything from leather to rain and stains—you don’t have to worry about filth getting in the way of your fitness routine.
#5 Monitor the Mileage
Most experts agree that any running shoe tends to have a useful lifespan of roughly 300-500 miles depending on the wear and tear of the rubber sole. Just like the fine print on all those car ads says, “actual mileage may vary,” the same goes for your shoes. Your weight, your stride, where you exercise, how often you walk or run, and how well your shoes are made all contribute to how long those sneakers will last.2
There’s a vast assortment of mileage- and path-tracking apps on the market to help you keep a record of how far you and your gym shoes have gone. Apps like Strava and AllTrails not only help you keep track of your mileage, but can record where you’ve gone on a map, too.
By logging which exercise shoes tend to have the most durability, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about which ones to buy when it comes time to replace them.
Signs it Might Be Time to Replace Your Exercise Shoes
We’re all in favor of giving your shoes their best—and longest—life. But heading to the gym in a pair of tattered, foul-smelling shoes isn’t the best look—nor is doing your feet any favors.
Here are a few signs that it might be time to upgrade:
- Uneven wear patterns – If the soles of your shoes appear to be wearing unevenly, you might need more than just a new pair. When shoes begin to exhibit uneven wear, it can be a sign that they aren’t the right type of shoe for you, and aren’t providing enough support. This will cause them to lose their shape more quickly.3
- Worn soles – Just like your car’s tires, your shoes have tread that assists with traction and cushion. If you walk or run on asphalt or concrete, these rough surfaces can slowly eat away at the soles of your shoes, leaving bald spots. As your tread wears down, they aren’t going to be as effective at gripping the road or cushioning your steps.
- Flat or hard feeling – An athletic shoe, unlike a dress shoe, is constructed with a foam midsole that is intended to provide additional cushion and bounce that protect your foot and leg joints from prolonged stress and strain. As your shoes get older, though, this foam can lose its shape, leaving your footwear feeling flat and hard.
- Persistent aches and pains – It’s perfectly normal to feel a little sore after a good workout (What’s that they say? No pain, no gain?), but if that soreness lasts more than a day, or hurts more than it should, it could be a sign that your shoes just aren’t holding up their end of the bargain anymore.
What To Do When It’s Time to Put Them Out to Pasture
When your shoes have run their last race, and you’ve gotten all of the mileage out of them as you can, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for them entirely.
Here’s what you can do to save your faithful workout buddies from the trash heap:
Option #1 Recycle
Just because your shoes aren’t quite supportive enough to get you through your morning jog anymore doesn’t mean they’re altogether useless. You can keep on wearing them around the house while doing your chores or mowing the lawn.
Better yet, recycle your sneakers at a donation center. There are lots of organizations that will gladly accept your year-old exercise shoes, and provide them to someone who might not otherwise be able to afford them.
Option #2 Upcycle
Consider this footwear reincarnated.
Take a look at your old worn-out shoes, and figure out something new and creative they can be used for to reduce your carbon footprint. Set a few old shoes out on your back patio with flowers planted in them, or hang one from a tree, and fill it with birdseed. Voila. You’ve got an Instant bird feeder—or, more likely, squirrel feeder.4
Whatever you decide to do with your old ones, when you get that new pair, depending on the type of shoe you’ve chosen, and the level of care and maintenance you’re willing to put into them, you might be able to stretch that 500 miles into 500 more.
Breathe New Life Into Your Closet with Vionic
No shoe, no matter how well constructed or how well cared for, will last forever. But we believe in taking good care of the ones you’ve got for as long as you can to promote eco friendly fitness.
Another thing you should be taking proper care of? Your feet. That’s what we, at Vionic, do best. Whenever your shoe closet is in need of an update, don’t fill the empty space on the rack with just any old pair.
Instead, look for the American Podiatric Medical Association stamp of approval on many of our Vionic exercise shoes to ensure a healthy future ahead for both your footwear and your feet.
- Mercey, Livingston. “How to extend the life of your workout shoes (and when to replace them).” CNet. 6 January, 2021, https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/how-to-extend-the-life-of-your-workout-shoes-and-when-to-replace-them/
- Abesamis Demarest, Abigail. “Here’s How Often Experts Say You Should Replace Your Workout Sneakers.” Huffpost. 27 May, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-often-to-replace-sneakers_l_60a3ddcbe4b03e1dd38f39aa
- Sinrich, Jenn. “7 Signs You Need New Workout Sneakers.” Aaptiv. https://aaptiv.com/magazine/signs-new-workout-sneakers
- Constable, Courtney. “15 Creative Ways to Reuse Old Shoes.” Diys. https://www.diys.com/ways-to-reuse-old-shoes/