Is Mall Walking a Sport?

Cartoon by David Espinoza I recently started walking inside the Lancaster Mall in Salem, Oregon. I had no idea that this option was available to the public. The mall actually encourages people to come get fit. The cost is free – you just have to provide your own transportation. The walking times are 6:30 am - 10:00 am Mon. through Sat., 7:00 am - 11:00 am on Sunday.

In the northwest part of the USA it is cold in the winter. I was walking outside while the weather was permitting, but once the temperature dropped I was shivering and my face was going numb. I had to do something else. My wife and I went shopping one morning at Lancaster Mall. She mentioned to me that there was walking allowed during certain hours.

I would never have considered mall walking being a sport, but I’m rethinking that now. If race walking is a sport, well, you be the judge. The mall has a map that illustrates one lap being just over a ½ mile – side hallways included.

There are usually a few people walking in the early morning. Ages range from 20 to 90 years old – I’m one of the youngest at 55. I’ve only seen one 20 year-old. I’ve seen a sixteen year-old, but she was just waiting for the stores to open. One lady even uses hiking sticks, “Hi!” she says with a smile to every person that goes by. She informs me that several people come because of chronic illnesses and use mall walking as therapy.

The people that show up seem to be very friendly – they’ve gotten to know each other over time. They yell across the hallway at times while walking at their own pace. I can’t forget to mention how safe walkers feel with security there at all times.

“Good morning!” one gentleman says to me as he passes me on the left. He’s about 20 years older than I am with mad confidence – he can really move fast. I feel so out of shape, some day I’ll be able to keep up with him.

Anita Griswold (no not from Wally World) is an ambitious lady that walks there regularly with her friend. She recently retired from the Salem Hospital – she’s discovered so many benefits in mall walking.

“I thought to myself, I can sit around home and nibble on food or I can exercise instead. I need to work out – this keeps me in shape while I enjoy myself. Five or six miles are what I try to do here. It’s a great way to stay healthy and keep warm,” Anita said.

I don’t know if I’ll be doing six miles any time soon, but I hope to work up to it. I definitely have to get in better shape to be able to stay with the lady that walks with a stroller. I’m not joking – she moves very fast and embarrasses me every time she flies ahead of me. All I see is the dust from the hallway hitting my face.

There is a store in the mall that’s called Victoria’s Secret. I think most of you know the one. Every time I walk by that store I think to myself, Victoria … the secret is out! Put clothes on those girls! There are kids that come to the mall.

The definition of “sport” is an active diversion requiring physical exertion and competition. So if I made it a competition in my own mind, I could try to keep pace with some of these professional mall walkers … I’d say mall walking is a sport.

On a different note, I never understood why I had to force myself to wake up when I had a day job. Now that I’m retired I seem to wake up pretty easy. Has anyone else experienced that situation? Maybe it’s just me.

I definitely recommend mall walking in the early hours if you don’t like the cold weather. As we get older the bones take a toll. Trust me, I know.