A new kind of mall rat
Once upon a time the mall might have been a place where you met your friends for a soda and some window-shopping after school. Now, it’s a place where you can go to get fit, have fun and make new friends with mall walking!
Mall walking is a free way to add some physical activity to your day in an indoor, climate-controlled environment. Depending upon what the winters are like in your area, mall walking is great for those who have mobility issues and find walking outdoors a challenge when there’s ice and snow on the ground. As an added bonus, there are always benches and washrooms nearby when you’re strolling through your local mall.
The concept is simple: malls open their doors early in the morning, usually around 7:00am, to allow interested walkers access to the corridors inside. Stores aren’t open until later in the morning, so it’s quieter and not nearly as crowded as it would be in the middle of the day. Sometimes there are organized groups who meet and warm up together before setting out on a set route around the mall, but there is also the option of walking on your own. Mall policies vary, so check with your local mall to find out if it does have a mall walking program, what time the mall opens, and what, if anything, you need to do to participate.
According to The Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, studies have shown that walking 2.5 hours per week (30 minutes, 5 days a week) cuts the risk of developing cardiovascular and coronary heart disease by a whopping 50%, so adding mall walking to your weekly exercise routing is a great way to squeeze in those important minutes of physical activity.
It’s always easier to stick with an exercise routine if it’s fun and enjoyable, so consider these tips before you get started:
- Walk with a buddy. Or consider joining a group of mall walkers, if there is one in your area. It makes exercise more social, and helps keep you motivated.
- Make plans for after your walk. Grab a cup of coffee with a mall-walking buddy or do some shopping when the stores open.
- Set personal fitness goals. Create set routes around the mall and time yourself each day to see if your speed is improving. Try adding loops to your route to increase your distance. Commit to mall-walking a set number of days per week. Sticking with a program and seeing improvement as time passes is a fantastic and rewarding way to stay motivated.
- Window shop. At this time of year, the malls are festooned with all kinds of beautiful decorations, and store window displays are magical. You might also get some holiday shopping ideas while you’re strolling through the mall!
- Reward yourself. You’re doing something good and positive for your body and mind. Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure, a new t-shirt, or a well-deserved nap when you get home as a reward for sticking with your exercise plan.
You should always check with your doctor before starting any new physical exercise program, but chances are you doctor will be very pleased with your decision to hit the malls this winter!
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