Before I knew better, I bought my sneakers for looks. If they were cute and could work with my yoga pants as well as my jeans, it was a done deal! Once I’d find a pair I love, I’d wear those suckers until I wore them out or until style trends dictated I change them. It never crossed my mind that, by the time the tread had worn down on my favorite pair of kicks, they had long since passed their prime.

Many people might think that you should wear your athletic shoes until they wear out, but that’s absolutely not the case. The cushioning in the base of the shoe compresses over time, thereby lessening the shock absorption, which is one of the vital functions footwear provides. While shock absorption is important, it’s just one piece of the puzzle; there are other factors such as type of use and frequency of use that play a roll in determining the life cycle of your shoe.

The first step, no pun intended, is to choose the shoe that is best for the type of activity you are doing. This may mean multiple pairs of sneakers. It’s costly at first, but better in the long run. See what I did there?

Heavy Running
Whether you are training for a marathon or running from the law (hopefully not the latter), if you run every day, 300-400 miles is the average lifespan for your shoes. The only way to know this is to track your miles. There are quite a few free smart phone apps that do this.

If you like to take things slow, that’s all good. At least you are getting some exercise. Even though walking is relatively low-impact, mileage is still the determining factor. 450-500 miles is the average before you need to retire your shoes.

Cardio Classes
So you like to shake it to get your fitness on, do you? Well, then you will need to look out for the feel of your shoes to be harder and less cushion-y as a telltale sign that its time to cha-cha-slide down to your nearest shoe store.

The fact is, your sneakers will most likely expire long before they go out of style. If you want your feet and body to respond properly to movement and remain healthy, it’s important to keep your shoes healthy, too.

Jessica Kuiken is a Los Angeles-based Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer. You can follow her on Twitter for the latest on fitness and healthy living.

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