Impact of alternative footwear on human energy expenditure

Cody Edward Morris, Harish Chander, Samuel J Wilson, Mark Loftin, Chip Wade, John C Garner


Purpose: Use of alternative footwear options such as flip-flop style sandals and minimalist athletic shoes are becoming increasingly popular footwear choices. The purpose of the investigation was to analyze the energy expenditure and oxygen consumption requirements of walking at preferred pace while wearing flip-flops, slip-on style shoes, and minimalist athletic shoes. Methods: Eighteen healthy male adults participated in this study. In addition to an initial familiarization session, participants were tested in three different footwear conditions [thong-style flip-flops (FF), Croc® slip on shoes (CROC), and Vibram Fivefingers® minimalist shoes (MIN)]. Then after a brief warm-up, participants walked a one-mile distance at their preferred pace. Immediately following completion of the one-mile walk, participants stood quietly on the treadmill for an additional period to assess excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). Results: A repeated-measures ANOVA that the following variables did not show evidence of a significant differently value between conditions: preferred pace (p = 0.392), average oxygen consumption (p = 0.804), energy expenditure per mile (p = 0.306), or EPOC (p = 0.088). There was shown to be a significantly higher RER during exercise in CROC compared to MIN (p = 0.031) with no significant differences observed when comparing CROC to FF (p = 0.106) or FF to MIN (p = 0.827). Conclusion: Based on the results of the current study, it appears that the alternative footwear selected for evaluation do not lead to a substantial alteration of walking pace or overall EE. However, the significant difference in RER suggesting a slightly elevated exercise intensity while wearing the CROC could perhaps be related to the softer sole, influencing overall mechanical efficiency.




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