07/09/2010 08:25 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Toning Shoes No Better Than Ordinary Trainers

MorgueFile, alvimann

If you've recently invested a substantial sum of cash in a pair of special fitness shoes that are designed to tone your leg muscles, look away now. According to the American Council on Exercise, there's no difference between them and ordinary trainers or sneakers (which, as we all know, are often considerably cheaper).

Toning shoes have sparked a major boom in the fitness market during the last couple of years, with women from all corners of the globe scrambling to buy a pair. They feature curved soles and extra padding to change the way you walk, the idea being that this throws you slightly off balance so you use different muscles - including your core muscles - to help keep you stable.

And of course, one of the main benefits of toning shoes is that they claim you'll burn more calories while you walk compared to wearing ordinary shoes or trainers. Some also claim to help increase blood flow to the legs and to relieve stress in the lower back.

But when the American Council on Exercise compared three well-known brands of toning shoes with normal running shoes, they found all the volunteers burned the same number of calories and used the same muscles.

The researchers did admit that one brand of toning shoes - MBTs - may be useful for people who have instability problems, for instance older people who have weak ankles.

Do you own a pair of toning shoes, and if so do you think they've worked for you (at the very least they may have got you up and walking)? We'd love to know what you think.