Shopping malls around the world 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.
- Away from the traffic: No intersections to cross, broken glass or bushes obstructing the path, auto fumes or rush hour.
- Security: Walking with others and with mall security on duty.
- Restrooms and water: always nearby in the mall.
Clubs and Benefits for Mall WalkersBesides 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 to Mall WalkingDrawbacks 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 WalkersWalkers 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.