Mall Walking

Senior Couple Walking Indoors
Senior Couple Walking Indoors. Assembly/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Shopping malls often open their doors early for walkers. What makes this a perfect match?

  • Out of the weather: Inside a climate controlled mall, walkers can dress comfortably and not worry about wind, rain, snow, ice, heat. You don't have to weather the weather.
  • Safely Away from Traffic: Inside the mall, you don't have to worry about dodging cars. There are no intersections to cross, no broken glass or bushes obstructing the path, no auto fumes or rush hour. It's a safer walking workout location.
  • Security: Mall security and surveillance video helps ensure you won't become a victim of street crime. If you walk alone but don't feel safe outdoors, the mall is a good option.
  • Medical Response: If you have an accident or medical emergency, you will be seen by other walkers and mall staff and get medical assistance. This is a good advantage for those with a chronic medical condition or health risks.
  • Restrooms and Water: These essentials are always nearby in the mall.
  • Cafes and Snacks: You can enjoy coffee and breakfast snacks at mall cafes before or after your walk, still safely inside and out of the weather.

Clubs and Benefits for Mall Walkers

Besides these advantages, many malls actively encourage walkers with walking clubs, discounts, health check-ups, and mileage rewards. Often the walking club or program is sponsored by a local medical center. Membership is usually free and more information on joining may be found at the mall information kiosk.

Walkers may receive a pin, t-shirt or visor to identify them. The mall merchants may provide discounts, rewards for mileage achieved, and giveaways.

Mall walkers may come for the exercise and stay for the friends they make. Naomi in Vancouver, Washington enjoys her weekday mall-walking time with other women from her volkssport club.

On the weekends they walk outside, but during the week their morning walks at Vancouver Mall are a ritual. After walking for an hour, they settle down to coffee and breakfast at one of the food stands. Naomi says that being part of the group keeps her walking regularly. She is missed if she doesn't come, and she doesn't want her friends to end up walking alone.

Drawbacks of Mall Walking

Drawbacks to mall walking are the monotony. Even in larger mall, a half hour to an hour walk will mean several loops past the same (closed) stores. And, as our reader Jean notes, past the tempting smells from the bakery shops. The surface is also very hard, often concrete. Mall walkers do not tend to be walking for speed, so those who want to set a more vigorous pace may feel out of place.

Pluses for Mall Walkers

Walkers get a jump on other shoppers as the stores finally open in the morning, a big advantage during the holiday shopping season. No wonder mall merchants support walking programs, it ensures loyal customers who return several times a week.

Free blood pressure checks, low cost or free cholesterol screenings, presentations by health and exercise experts are other perks for mall walkers. The mall walking club may organize to take groups to charity walking events or other organized outdoor walks.

Check for Mall Walking Programs

Check with your local mall at the information booth to find out what their program is for mall walking. Usually the mall will open early for walkers. But they may have identification buttons and goodies for walkers who join their walking program.

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