It seems like such an easy way to get your blood sugar levels in control. Just slip on a pair of Reebok EasyTones, and you get so much exercise out of just walking that your blood sugars float down to normal and your thighs and butt tighten, too.
But do they really work?
Toning shoes are shoes with a curved insole designed to imitate the experience of balance on a wobble board at the gym or walking on a sandy beach. They definitely cause twitching muscles in the ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks.
The jury is still out on whether toning shoes really tone muscles. The American Council on Exercise has commissioned a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin to put Skecher's ShapeUps, Reebok EasyTones, and Masai Barefoot Technology to the test. The request was made after advertising claims by Reebok seemed to promise more benefits than the shoes can deliver, at least in terms of tightening muscles.
Anytime you get muscles moving, however, especially muscles in the buttocks, glucose will be burned and insulin sensitivity will increase. This doesn't mean that using the shoes will burn more calories overall. It does not mean that wearing these shoes will help your cardiovascular fitness. It just means that they will probably help your insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar levels than exercise in ordinary running shoes.
Most type 2 diabetics, of course, don't need special running shoes. They need to try running! If your doctor approves, even a few seconds of running, rather than walking, can have noticeable or even dramatic effects on your blood sugar levels, far more than any medication.
Porcari J., Greany J., Tepper S., Edmondson B., Foster, C. with Mark Anders, "Will Toning Shoes Really Give You a Better Body?" American Council on Exercise and Fitness, 2011, http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/toningshoes072010.pdf.