Our 6 Favorite Athletic Shoes for Women

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It's that time of year again, when hundreds of American women set new fitness goals for themselves and look forward to a healthier, happier new year. If you've made it your New Year's resolution to slim down, tone up, or simply be more active, we salute you! Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Set realistic goals

2. Drink plenty of water

3. Invest in the perfect athletic shoes

Committing to a fitness plan can be tough, and there will certainly be bumps along the way. Start off on the right foot with a quality pair of athletic shoes! Believe it or not, your shoes play a critical role in your performance. Wearing poorly made shoes—or even great shoes that aren't made for your body or your workout style—can be a huge roadblock to your fitness progress. From aches and blisters to plantar fasciitis and tendonitis, the health issues caused by wearing the wrong shoes can make your goals much harder to reach. Don't let yourself be slowed down or even injured by your shoes!

Below we've listed shoe picks for various activities from two of our most popular brands, New Balance and Merrell. Athletes and gym goers will recognize New Balance as a premier manufacturer of athletic sneakers, while Merrell is more popular with hikers and other folks who love the great outdoors. Whether you prefer to exercise in the gym or out under the open sky, we've got the shoes you need to get in shape!

For the Walker: New Balance 847v2

New Balance Women's 847v2 in White with Frost

New Balance Women's 847v2 in White with Frost. Also available in Grey with Exuberant Pink and Lead with Silver Mink.

Maybe your doctor has recommended a daily walk as part of your overall health plan. Maybe you're trying to ease yourself toward more strenuous exercise, or you love taking in the sights and sounds of your neighborhood while staying active. Maybe you just have a dog to walk! Whatever your reason, regular walking is a simple way to increase your fitness and health.

Many shoes are labeled as walking shoes, though they may or may not have the structure and support you need for consistent walking. The New Balance 847v2, however, is a treat for your hardworking feet. This premium walking shoe swaddles your foot in cozy Ortholite® foam cushioning, keeping every inch of your foot as comfortable as possible: heel, sole, instep, and ankle. Trust us, you won't want to take off the 847v2 at the end of your walk!

The New Balance 847v2 has a 12mm heel drop, meaning it has noticeably more padding at the heel than the toe, while a LIGHTNING DRY® liner wicks away moisture. A rubber outsole finishes off this stylish, oh-so-comfy walking shoe. With all the stability and comfort you could ask for, the New Balance Women's 847v2 will take you where you need to go, whether it's down the block, around the track, or through the mall!

For the Runner: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 in Freshwater with Icarus

New Balance Women's Fresh Foam 1080 in Freshwater with Icarus. Also available in Dragonfly with GreySilver with Pink and Pink Mist, and more.

If running is your favorite way to get exercise, you know better than anyone the importance of finding the right shoes. There are many factors to consider when choosing running shoes: heel drop, arch support, cushioning, breathability, weight, and more. Deciding on a pair of running shoes is no easy task!

We offer lots of appealing options for runners, but today we're showcasing the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080. Why? The Fresh Foam 1080 is a great neutral running shoe, especially for beginners. Like all New Balance athletic gear, this powerhouse sneaker is designed using data from real runners, just like you. The Fresh Foam 1080 is made for the "average" runner—even though no two people have exactly the same stride, speed, body type, and arch height, the Fresh Foam 1080 is carefully made for the most common running pace and behaviors.

An 8mm heel drop helps the Fresh Foam 1080 accommodate all types of foot strikes, whether you land on your forefoot, midfoot, or heel, though midfoot strikers will find it the most comfortable and supportive. If you're not sure how your foot lands with each step, this is a good shoe to start out with. The Fresh Foam 1080 takes its name from the generous foam cushioning in the midsole, so if you like a cozy running shoe that helps each step feel soft and light, this is the shoe for you.

Other features of the Fresh Foam 1080 include an engineered mesh upper with strategic patterning for breathability, a flexible grooved outsole designed for natural movement, and an odor-resistant Ortholite® cushioning insert. All of the New Balance Women's Fresh Foam 1080's exciting assets combine to make a running shoe that is just as dedicated to excellence as you are.

For the Cross-Trainer: New Balance 857v2

New Balance Womens 857v2 in White with Light Blue

New Balance 857v2 in White with Light Blue.

Cross-training is challenging, but it's also fun, engaging, and a great way to increase your overall fitness and muscle tone. Whether you're doing aerobics, lifting weights, or incorporating a short run into your workout, the right cross-training shoes have you covered from start to finish. With cross-training sneakers, you can focus on improving yourself, not on whether you're wearing the right shoes on your feet.

The New Balance 857v2 is packed with features for the committed cross-trainer. A 10mm drop provides heel cushioning, while proprietary ROLLBAR technology helps correct the all-too-common problem of overpronation (the foot rolling inward with each strike). A dual-density midsole and internal shank give you the support you need, when you need it. These features, when taken together, form a shoe that gives you unbeatable stability with every step.

The 857v2's breathable leather upper and Dri-Lex® lining keep your feet cool and dry, while N2 cushioning provides shock absorption to prevent aches and injuries from more intense exercise. In short, the New Balance Women's 857v2 has it all: Comfort, stability, and classic style. From the moment you slide your foot into this supportive sneaker, you'll be ready to take on the toughest workout routines.

For the Hiker: Merrell Moab FST Waterproof

Merrell Women's Moab FST Waterproof

Merrell Moab FST Waterproof in Boulder. Also available in Granite.

For some women, working out in a gym just isn't the answer. You need blue skies, fresh air, hills to climb, and trees to rest under. Give you a woodland paradise over a weight bench any day! If you fall into this category, you need more than just a basic sneaker. You need a shoe that's as tough as you are, ready to take on the elements and the terrain. A hardy hiking shoe will take care of your feet, helping to prevent injuries and slips, whether you stay on the beaten path or blaze your own trail.

One such robust hiking shoe is the Merrell Moab FST Waterproof. Merrell's Moab line has stood as the standard to which all other hiking footwear aspires since its creation in 2007. There's a reason 'Moab' stands for "Mother of All Boots"! With the Moab FST Waterproof, it's all in the name: Fit + Superior Traction. Like all Moab hikers, the Moab FST Waterproof offers enhanced fit that you can depend on from the moment you take them out of the box—after all, a shoe that rubs blisters on your ankles, cramps your toes, or even slips off won't serve you well on the trail. This hiker's reliable traction comes from its Vibram® MegaGrip outsole, which provides a sure grip on both wet and dry surfaces.

The Merrell Moab FST Waterproof features an M Select™ FIT.ECO footbed, which is made of contoured EVA for optimal support. This footbed also incorporates organic odor control to keep your shoes smelling fresh. Shock absorbent cushioning in the heel and a molded nylon arch shank help increase stability even on treacherous ground. With the Merrell Women's Moab FST Waterproof, you have everything you need to take on the great outdoors.

Plus, stay tuned—the new Merrell Moab 2 is coming in February 2017!

For the Trail Runner: Merrell All-Out Crush Shield

Merrell Womens All Out Crush Shield in Surf the Web

Merrell All-Out Crush Shield in Surf the Web.

Trail runners make the terrain their workout equipment. Hills, valleys, obstacles, twists and turns, it all contributes to making your run challenging yet enjoyable. Out in the wilderness, it's often just you, the trees, and the trail, and there's no better recipe for cleansing the soul. Follow your own path with a pair of tough, responsive, and comfortable trail running shoes.

For trail runners, we again turn to Merrell. The Merrell Women's All Out Crush Shield is your typical running shoe's outdoorsy cousin. Its breathable mesh lining and relatively slim 7mm heel drop will be familiar to runners of all stripes, yet there are a myriad of benefits to choosing the All Out Crush Shield over a regular running shoe. First, its durable upper of TPU-coated mesh not only resists water, it is engineered to repel dirt and debris, which keeps the inside clean and comfortable. An EVA footbed and a UniFly™ midsole help you find the perfect balance between shock absorption and connection to the trail. Beneath that, an M SelectGRIP lugged sole helps you keep your feet even when the going gets tough. As a finishing touch, the Merrell All Out Crush Shield features reflective details for visibility in low light conditions. For a trail running shoe that gets you from Point A to Point B and back again safely and comfortably, you can't beat the Merrell Women's All Out Crush Shield.

For Post-Workout: Merrell Jungle Moc

Merrell Women's Jungle Moc in Taupe Suede

Merrell Jungle Moc in Taupe Suede. Also available in Gunsmoke and Midnight.

You've put in your time, you've dripped sweat, you've worked your muscles and felt the burn. Good job! Now it's time to relax. No matter what the day holds, don't forget how hard your feet worked. They deserve a break as much as the rest of you, wouldn't you agree? Even if you can't put your feet up on a stool for the rest of the day, you can wrap them in cushiony comfort and still get where you need to go with a cozy after-sport shoe.

Luckily, Merrell has you covered even after your workout is over with the Merrell Jungle Moc. This popular slip-on cocoons your foot in softness from every side, and with elastic goring on either side of the instep, it's easy to put on and take off (not that you'll want to do the latter). A flexible pig suede upper and a "sticky" rubber sole offer lightweight protection and traction to keep weary feet safe. But the true appeal of the Jungle Moc lies inside, where an Ortholite® anatomical footbed provides just the right amount of support. An air cushion in the heel absorbs the jolt of every step, while the compression molded EVA footframe gives stability and added cushioning. From heel to toe, the Merrell Women's Jungle Moc is built with soothing comfort in mind. It's almost like having a cozy slipper you can wear on the go!

Starting a new fitness routine is never easy, but with a good attitude and a great pair of shoes, there's nothing to hold you back. Browse all our athletic shoes on to find the perfect pair for you, and keep us posted on your progress!