Mall Walking

Get Your Walking Workout Indoors and Out of the Weather at the Mall

Senior Couple Walking Indoors
Senior Couple Walking Indoors. Assembly/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Shopping malls often open their doors early for walkers, and if you happen to arrive before the stores open you will often see people circling. Some malls even have walking clubs with perks. What are the benefits of mall walking, and what should you consider about this form of exercise?

Advantages of Mall Walking

  • Out of the weather: Inside a climate-controlled mall, walkers can dress comfortably and not worry about wind, rain, snow, ice, or heat. As long as you can get to the mall, you can walk in comfort.
  • Safely Away from Traffic: Inside the mall, you don't have to worry about dodging cars. There are no intersections to cross, no broken glass or bushes obstructing the path, no auto fumes or rush hour traffic. It's a safer walking workout location.
  • Security: Mall security and surveillance video help ensure you won't become a victim of street crime. If you walk alone but don't feel safe outdoors, the mall is a good option.
  • Medical Response: If you have an accident or medical emergency, you will be seen by other walkers and mall staff and get medical assistance. This is an important advantage for those with a chronic medical condition or health risks.
  • Restrooms and Water: These essentials are always nearby in the mall.
  • Cafes and Snacks: You can enjoy coffee and breakfast snacks at mall cafes before or after your walk, still safely inside and out of the weather.
  • Camaraderie: If you become a regular, you are likely to start making nodding acquaintances or friends of the other mall walkers.

    Drawbacks of Mall Walking

    • Endless Loops: Monotony is one drawback to mall walking. Even in a larger mall, you will circle it many times in a typical 30-minute or 60-minute walk. Your loops will pass the same (closed) stores.
    • Hard Walking Surface: The floor surface is usually very hard, often it is made of concrete. You might consider wearing shoes with cushioning to lessen the impact.
    • Slow Walkers: 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.

    How Far Can You Walk in a Mall?

    The distance you can cover inside a mall in one loop depends on the size of the mall. If the mall has a walking program, they will often post the distances you can achieve for different loops inside the mall.  If you wear a pedometer or fitness tracker, it can estimate your mileage.

    You may discover that GPS distance doesn't register accurately inside a mall as the building shields the signal from the satellites. Your walking speed will determine how far you can walk before the stores open. Typical distances in 30 minutes would be one to two miles or 2000 to 5000 steps. Typical distances in 60 minutes would be two to four miles or 4000 to 8000 steps.

    Clubs and Benefits for Mall Walkers

    Besides 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 said she 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.

    Walkers 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.

    Check for Mall Walking Programs

    Check with your local mall at the information booth to find out what their program is for mall walking. Usually, the mall will open early for walkers. But they may have identification buttons and goodies for walkers who join their walking program.