Tag Archives: Solitary Fitness

3 Reasons Why You Should Try Mall Walking

Person wearing brown boots and blue denim. The're standing on snow and their boots are caked in snow. Mall walking is a form of exercise involving people walking briskly through the long corridors of shopping malls before the stores open for the day when there are very few other folks about.

This is the time of year when I begin to yearn for spring. It’s one thing to experience snowstorms in November and December when the memory of summer is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Winter weather somehow feels even colder and snowier when it’s been happening for a couple of months already and can be expected to keep popping up for at least two more of them.

Luckily, Toronto has plenty of malls to walk around in while the temperatures plunge and snow falls outside. There is definitely something to be said for taking advantage of all of that dry, temperature-controlled space until April arrives.

If you haven’t tried mall walking yet this winter, here are three reasons why it might be a good idea to give it a shot.

It’s Scaleable

Child running up a flight of stepsWalking can be made as easy or as difficult as it needs to be to meet your current fitness goals.

It can be a short, gentle stroll through the mall for someone who is brand new to exercise or just coming back to it after an accident or illness.

A long, brisk power walk might be a good choice for someone who has been exercising for a while and wants to increase their endurance.

I’ve even seen people run up multiple flights of stairs while on walks in order to give their muscles and cardiovascular systems a bigger challenge. Note: I don’t recommend this one on busy days at the mall or other public places!

It’s as Sociable or Solitary as You Prefer

Two people walking indoors. There is a large wall filled with glass windows behind them. I’m the sort of person who loves walking with a partner or group of people. There’s something about walking and talking that makes both of those things much more appealing to me than they’d be on their own.

The nice thing about walking at a mall is that either of these options is perfectly safe and acceptable.

There are certain places like parks that I don’t feel safe visiting early in the morning and late at night when few other folks are around because I am a short, petite woman. This is even more true during the winter when the sun rises late and sets early.

Malls always have security guards patrolling them, and no matter how early I might show up in the morning I’ve always seen other mall walkers there as well.

I really like being able to get a walk in at the mall by myself or with someone else without needing to think about safety factors like these.

It’s Warm, Dry, and Indoors

People walking around in a brightly lit mallTaking an outdoor walk on a warm, spring day in Ontario is a pleasant experience.

In February? Not so much. Our winters can be beautiful, but they’re also generally wet, icy, and freezing cold for months on end.

While I definitely prefer walking outdoors, it is nice to have a place to go during the winter where you can unzip your coat and walk around without slipping on any ice or snow.

Malls have plenty of flat, even surfaces to walk on. The ones I visit are kept very clean and dry, especially if you visit early in the day before the biggest crowds show up.

There are times during winter and early spring when I impatiently wait for the weather to warm up again. I doubt I’ll ever look forward to this part of the year, but I do appreciate having such nice places to move around in while the weather outdoors is cold, icy, snowy, muddy, rainy, and sometimes all of those things at once in a single day!

If you live near a mall, how often do you go there to exercise?

Why I Prefer to Exercise Alone

As I’ve mentioned here in the past, I didn’t learn to enjoy exercise until adulthood in large part because of my negative experiences in physical education classes.

To summarize that post for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, my gym teachers never explained why exercise was an important part of living a healthy lifestyle. It was something we were compelled to do without being told why it was important.

They also put such a heavy emphasis on competition and team sports that I didn’t realize there were many other options for those of us who have no interest in winning or playing on a team. While I understand that my school districts weren’t wealthy ones and couldn’t afford specialized equipment, in the post I linked to above I did come up with quite a few alternative forms of exercise that they could have incorporated into gym classes without breaking the bank.

It was only when I discovered all of the solitary, non-competitive ways to get a workout in that I began to look forward to this part of my regular routine. Not everyone has these same needs, but I’m happier exercising alone for the following reasons:

1. Peace and Quiet 

Some people are energized by loud music or the cacaphony of sounds that occur when a large group of people are all using the same facilities.

I am not one of them. While I do spend time in loud, crowded places, they are never the first place to come to mind when I’m deciding where I’d like to go. To me, this would be like going to your dentist’s office just to hang out and listen to the distant hum of the dentist drilling someone’s tooth to fix a cavity.

If that’s something you find amusing, fantastic. I can think of a very long list of places I’d rather be instead, though, and none of them involve drills or ear-splitting gym tunes.

2. No Scheduling Conflicts

Many of the people I know do not greet mornings with joy. While I’m leaping out of bed and feeling my highest energy levels of the day, they’re drinking coffee and barely keeping their eyes open.

If we were to attempt to synchronize our schedules, it would be tricky to balance their sleepy reactions to the morning with how I tend to behave in the evenings. There have also been times when my workouts lasted for shorter or longer periods of time than I thought they would based on how I was feeling that day.

Exercising by myself simply makes more sense until or unless I meet another unapologetic morning person who takes the same approach to fitness that I do.

3. Personalized Fitness Goals

As I mentioned above, competition does nothing to encourage me to exercise. In fact, it discourages me from pushing myself harder due to how much I dislike the winner vs. loser approach to getting fit.

What does work for me is to set personalized fitness goals that I can easily measure and track. This could be a short-term goal like increasing my step count or a long-term goal like reducing my body fat percentages. I like the process of keeping track of numbers like these and seeing how they change over time. If a friend wanted to see my statistics for some reason, I wouldn’t have a problem sharing them.

It’s the competition I’m really trying to avoid, and keeping my goals personalized is an excellent way for me to do just that.

4. Shorter, More Efficient Workouts

Occasionally, I have exercised with other people. It’s been my experience that a lot of folks enjoy talking throughout their workouts.

I enjoy conversations in just about any other setting, but I really don’t like pausing a workout in order to chat. If I’m lifting weights or walking briskly, I want to focus on how I’m moving my body instead of what so-and-so said last week.

Socializing is important, but I’ve found that I get much better results when I completely separate that from staying fit.

Do you prefer to exercise alone or with a group of people?