Walking Survival for Shoppers

Surviving Black Friday and Marathon Shopping Days

Shopping in a Mall During Holiday Season
Shopping in a Mall During Holiday Season. VisitBritain/Britain On View/Getty Images

Shopping expeditions can strain even the trained fitness walker with dodging through crowds, standing in lines, carrying bulky packages. Take these tips to make it through a marathon shopping day.

Prepare for the Shopping Marathon

Training: To prepare for your shopping marathon and carrying those packages, you should start an upper body toning program 8 weeks in advance. You should also build your walking stamina with our Absolute Beginners tutorial or Marathon Training tutorial.

This training program will also help you evaluate your shoes and gear before the big shopping day. You may also want to see which local malls have walking groups and join them - that way you will be well prepared for the marathon mall day.

Map Your Trail: Which stores do you need to go to first to get the early-bird bargains or that hard-to-find toy? Where should you park to minimize your package toting? What is the most efficient route between stores? Where are resting spots and bathrooms?

Gear and Clothing for Shopping

Shoes: Shopping involves walking, standing and carrying. Most store floors and sidewalks have a base of concrete and will stress your feet. Select your shoes for cushioning and support as you twist, dodge and stand in lines while carrying packages. While speed walkers disdain those "nurse shoes," these are perfect for shopping expeditions.

    Gear: Consider a waist pack or stylish backpack for your wallet and the bare essentials - credit cards, comb, tissue. A purse can throw off your walking posture and is just another thing to carry.

    Packing It: Now you need to think about how you are going to carry the stuff you buy without straining your back.

    Posture is important for walking comfort. Consider a little-wheeled cart. Use pick-up or delivery service whenever you can. Many shopping areas have a gift-mailing service - an extravagance - but pain medication and back surgery would cost much more. Make frequent trips to the car to deposit your booty, or use a mall locker. Note: thieves may be observing this, use caution.

    What to Wear: Dress for comfort in loose clothing, with nothing tight or constricting. For outerwear when going to an enclosed mall, wear a light jacket to dash from parking to the entrance. Once inside you will be shedding your outer layers and you don't want to have to lug around a heavy coat. For street shopping, wear a windproof water-resistant outer layer, an insulating layer of microfleece or wool, and an under layer of a breathable fabric.

    Wear a Pedometer: Don't think you can walk very far? Put on a pedometer during your shopping days and see how many steps you can achieve. This can inspire you to keep moving all year long.

    Best Pedometers

    During the Shopping Marathon

    Nutrition and Fluids for Shoppers: Drink at least a cup of water every half hour and have a light snack every 2 hours while shopping to stay energized. Caffeine can keep you energized but also makes bathroom stops more frequent. Avoid mall foods such as caramel corn, cinnamon rolls, ice cream cones, and other fat-laden sweets. Instead, snack on pretzels, half a bagel with fat-free cream cheese, fruit cups, a nonfat latte or cappuccino, nonfat frozen yogurt. Sit down for a balanced light lunch with protein, starch, vegetables.

    Parking Lot Safety: Beware of drivers dashing for an open parking space, backing out blindly and zooming through the lot. Wear reflective and light-colored outer clothes and walk defensively. Hide packages in the trunk or under a cover to be less of a target for car burglars. Have your keys in hand before leaving the store and look over the area around your car before approaching it. If you see anyone suspicious - go back to the store or mall and request a security officer to accompany you to your vehicle.

    Winning the Shopping Marathon

    After 8 hours doing the shopping marathon, think about how you are going to stay in shape or attain your desired fitness level after the shopping season. Time to take up a regular walking program? Just think of your winning shape next year if you did!

    Check Your Pedometer: How many steps did you log on your shopping expedition? Use our Pedometer Steps Calorie Calculator to see how many calories you burned shopping. Did you know that slow walking at shopping speed burns more calories per mile?

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