Group Activity Spotlight: Mall Walking

Mall walking isn’t a thing that’s organized by national associations, tested in international competitions or backed by global foundations. Mall walking is simply walking in a mall.

And it’s awesome.

Here’s why–and here’s how you can get in step, too:

The great outdoors aren’t always all that great.

“Sidewalks can be broken up by tree roots, and be very uneven, but malls are stable,” says Patricia Jewett, host of GroupWorks’ Walking & Hiking channel. “The terrain is very level, and there are no hills.”

Jewett says the predictability of a shopping mall’s walking surface can be especially important to mature adults.   

“A mall helps them feel safer if they have vertigo or balance issues,” Jewett says. “It is a safe environment.”

The amenities are pretty sweet. Sometimes, literally.

At the Potomac Mills Mall in Woodbridge, Vermont, members of the Wood and Dale Wanderers, a local club affiliated with the American Volkssport Association, begin and end their regular mall-walk route at the Frappuccino-dispensing Starbucks, located “near [the] food court.” (And remember: Where there’s coffee and fast food, there’s got to be at least a couple of restrooms, too. Put that one the “added bonus” column.)

The doors are always open.

Okay, yes, we know, the doors of most malls don’t literally remain open 24/7. But generally speaking malls are welcoming and accommodating of mall walkers. In fact, many mall-walking groups are coordinated by mall management. The mega-sized Mall of America, for instance, runs a program called MOA Mall Stars. For $15 a person (or $25 a couple), you get a mall-issued card that, when swiped, tracks and records your steps from the moment you enter the Mall of America, to the moment you exit. MOA Mall Stars members also have access to monthly fitness reports, organized coffee chats, and store discounts.

In Vermont, mall walkers at the Potomac Mills Mall are allowed inside the center two hours before its opens to shoppers.

The scenery is a bargain.

“Malls are circular, so it’s is like walking on a track, but a track that’s interesting to look at,” Jewett says. “People enjoy window shopping, checking out stores, finding sales.”

The company’s nice, supportive and available.

Walking in a mall can mean never having to walk alone. “Mall-walking programs may provide support of a program leader, as well as support from other walking-program participants for those who enjoy walking buddies,” stated a report on mall walking authored, in part, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

While Jewett says there are nearly two dozen mall walks throughout the country that are organized by local AVA clubs, the fastest way to find your nearest mall walk–and mall-walking group–is to reach out to your nearest mall.