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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

On the Move With Mall Walking

     It is about an hour before the mall opens.  It is anything but quiet and still.  Moms are here with their children in strollers, husbands and wives have come together, friends congregate, and small groups are forming.  Is one of the stores having a to-die-for sale today?  No.  These individuals are here to exercise.  They are mall walkers.
     I have come this morning to see for myself what it is all about.  Upon finding my place amongst the rest of the walkers trekking around the mall, I quickly found the atmosphere to be energizing.  Music was playing overhead for our enjoyment.  Walkers were smiling and waving at each other as they crossed paths for the third or fourth time.  I passed a husband and wife team who were performing arm circles while they walked.  Some individuals were walking slowly, others briskly.  It didn't matter the pace or the style of walking we each chose as we circled around, we were all here striving toward one ultimate goal - improved health and well-being.
     If you haven't exercised before and want to start or you are looking to mix up your regular exercise routine, mall walking is a great option to explore.

Advantages to mall walking:
1.  It is free.
2.  No need for special equipment other than a pair of good supportive walking shoes and comfortable clothes.
3. Climate control.  There is protection from adverse outdoor elements such as rain, snow, wind, high humidity, and extreme temperatures.
4.  Even terrain.  No need to worry about cracked sidewalks, bumpy roads, or snow and ice covered walkways.
5.  Social benefits.  You can enjoy the company of old friends and/or meet new.
6.  Non-intimidating/low-pressure place to exercise.  You truly can go at your own pace yet feel like you are part of the crowd without feeling inferior about your skills and abilities.
7.  Family-friendly activity.  Young children can come along in strollers, pull wagons, or baby carriers.  Older children can walk or skip alongside you.
8.  Safety.  Security guards are present at the mall.

     Many of the area's malls open their doors early for walkers before their shops are open for business.  Some offer free organized walking clubs that provide members with discounts from participating  merchants, awards for mileage achieved, and giveaways such as free quarterly breakfasts.  For more information, contact your local mall.

Questions to ask your local mall:
1.  What time is the mall open for walkers?
2.  Does the mall offer a formal walking club?
3.  Are there any special rules to follow for mall walkers (e.g. must enter mall through designated entrance)?
4.  What is the distance around the mall at each level?
5.  Are there lockers/coat racks for personal belongings?
6.  What provisions are there if a medical emergency occurs (e.g. Do they have an automated external defibrillator {AED} on site?  Are the security guards certified in CPR?)?
7.  Does the mall offer free or low cost health screenings and/or fitness seminars for mall walkers?

Mall walking tips:
1.  Treat mall walking as you would any other exercise activity.  Make sure you include a proper warm-up and cool-down to your session.  
2.  Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.  You can either bring water from home or use the mall's amenities (e.g. drinking fountains and/or vending machines).
3.   Yield to shoppers when walking during regular mall business hours.

     If improved physical fitness is one of your goals, then mall walking with its safe, social and low-pressure environment is an excellent option to help you achieve that goal.  

Note:  Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this great idea. I live close to a mall and find this helps.

March 4, 2009 at 1:38 PM 

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