Many people may not know about a fitness subculture that brings people together for exercise. Walking the mall for exercise has been around for quite a few years, and its popularity has been increasing, especially for seniors.
Exercisers find a lot of perks in mall walking. Malls are a safe, comfortable place for exercise. Most of the time, the air is cool and dry, so walkers find malls convenient for exercise, especially in areas where the weather sometimes gets uncomfortable for workouts.
Many malls have walking clubs where walkers can meet others and get perks like free medical screening procedures for blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat percentage. Some malls even offer special mall saving coupons for walkers.
To get started mall walking, here’s what you need to know:
- Research your local malls for walking programs. Usually you can find this information on their Web sites or you can speak with a mall’s management office.
- You can usually do mall walking individually or in a group. Many people enjoy walking in groups because it helps keep them accountable to their exercise routine, and it’s a great way to meet new people.
- Most mall walkers typically exercise in the early morning before the actual stores in the mall open. There may be a few workers around during these early hours like janitors and food court employees, but in general there is a lot of room for walkers to get in a good workout.
- Make sure to purchase some good walking shoes. The floors are usually hard in malls. Some walkers prefer to get good running shoes for walking because these shoes have excellent support.
- Be prepared to bring drinking water and any other things you usually need for your workouts like an ipod and small towel.
- Be sure to show support to the sponsors and let them know what’s working well. You can also make suggestions for improvement.
- If your local mall does not have a walking program, suggest one to the mall management. You could also consider coordinating a mall walking program with a community wellness center or local hospital. There are many organizations that work with malls to help provide walking programs.
- As always, be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program.
Research and Mall Walking
According to a Prevention article “Walking Fit,” one study authored by Richard S. Cimbalo, PhD, professor of psychology at Daemen College in Amherst, New York revealed that where people walk makes a difference. The researchers believe there’s something about the mall that helps women get a better workout. It could be the safety and familiarity of the mall.
The study consisted of 60 men and women who were clocked with a stopwatch. The results showed that women naturally walked faster in the mall compared to walking on a track, and walking faster equates to burning more calories (Spilner, Mooney and Veilleux).
Walking may very well be the best way to lose extra pounds and keep them off permanently. According to the National Weight Control Registry, most dieters who have dropped extra pounds and kept them off permanently–five years or longer–report walking for one hour a day as their main form of exercise.
Spilner, Maggie et al. “Walking Fit.” Prevention. August 1999, Vol. 51 Issue 8, p72.