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The Best Women's Running and Athletic Shoes

Best Shoes for Fitness Classes

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Nike Zoom Fly Sister One+ $110; nike.com

Gossamerlike strands on the upper "hug the feet without confining them." And thanks to multi-directional grooves, the "super flexible" outsole "bends in every direction, so feet can move fluidly." Kickboxers and steppers raved about the extremely comfortable heel cushioning" that helps absorb impact.

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Best Shoes for All-Around Gym Use

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Asics Gel-260 TR $180; amazon.com

Gel-filled inserts under the heel and forefoot provide extra cushioning. "I barely felt the pedals, so I could go for an hour on the elliptical without my feet getting numb," said one tester. In classes, the outsole "never slips on studio floors" and the ankle padding "supports the heel, even during quick Zumba steps."

Best Cushioning Women's Running Shoes

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Saucony Triumph 7 $130; saucony.com

With a midsole insert and bands of foam in the heel, this shoe (which comes in two widths) has impact protection covered. The cushioning is "responsive," and the "flexible" midsole provides "smooth heel-to-toe movement."

Best Running Shoes for Overpronators

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Reebok Premier Road Supreme $100; reebok.com

A plastic ridge in the "comfortably firm" midsole helps the foot "stay stable." Plus, this shoe "feels lightweight and responsive," thanks to a "rubberlike insole" that adds cushioning and "puts an extra spring in your step."

Best Running Shoes for Distance Runners

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Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 $100; brooksrunning.com

Firm foam on the inner side of the midsole provides extra stability. "I was able to run with a straight, easy gait, even up steep hills," said a marathoner. A gel-filled midsole insert under the heels gives "generous shock absorbtion," helping one tester feel "less knee pain" after her runs.

Best Women's Running Shoes for Speed

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Mizuno Wave Rider 13 $100; roadrunnersports.com

This neutral shoe offers a smidgen of pronation control. "It's light and stable, which made me feel fast," said one racer. The upper has "lots of mesh" to improve ventilation and provide "some give in the toe box." Nubs on the front half of the outsole enhance traction, which "makes hill climbing easier."

Best Women's Shoes for Rugged Terrain

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Montrail Rockridge $90; backcountry.com

The upper is made of a strong mesh that "keeps toes dry and cool" yet "withstands pokes from branches." With rock-deflecting lugs underfoot and nubs around the perimeter, the outsole makes you feel "secure enough to run anywhere without fear of slipping."

Best Women's Shoes for Mixed Terrain

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Patagonia Tsali $100; patagonia.com

A thin, shock-absorbing plate in the forefoot "provides plenty of support" and keeps the Tsali "much lighter then other trail shoes." The sticky rubber outsole helps steady feet: "I felt like I could climb any surface confidently," said one runner.

Best Women's Walking Shoe

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New Balance WRW760 $100; newbalance.com

A plastic bar in the midsole boosts stability, helping one tester "walk miles with no ankle pain." The toe box provides "plenty of wiggle room," and the upper "prevents feet from overheating-even on long treks."