Mall Walking ~ Cheaper Than The Gym

Mr Bee and I are currently watching “Better Call Saul” on Netflix, and in a recent episode, Saul mentioned mall walkers, complaining that they are hard to chase (he is selling them his will-making services) as they are all walking so damned fast.

In the UK, this is a relatively little-known phenomenon; there are pockets of it (hello Bluewater, Kent), but in the US and in Australia it seems a much bigger deal. And what an amazing idea it is.

Mall walking

I believe it all started in America when the first fully enclosed U.S. mall, the Stockdale, opened in Minnesota in 1956 and local doctors suggested patients recovering from heart attacks should exercise there, away from the snow and ice of Minnesota’s harsh winters. The 1980s saw a boom in the construction of malls and by 2001, some 2.5 million people were walking in 1,800 malls in the United States.

“You always have a bathroom, and most malls have security. Even if you have a heart issue, they have defibrillators.”

So if you live near one, what are the benefits? They are under-cover so weather proof. My Mum used to mall walk in Brisbane Australia, mainly because during their summers, it is way too hot to exercise outside if you are elderly, so an early morning brisk hour of walking in the air-conditioned mall was the perfect solution. If the mall allows, you can get the walk done before the shoppers arrive, but then grab a coffee or breakfast with your fellow exercisers. Water fountains are often available, as is seating if you over-do it. From my Mum’s point of view, it was sociable as well as being a good form of exercise. You go at your own pace and there is certainly plenty to look at. The mall owners/managers can benefit from this extra business at an otherwise very slow time of day, and the canny shop owners can work it to their benefit (Senior Citizen specials on offer).

Some years ago I emailed the British Heart Foundation asking whether they had thought of launching a programme of Mall Walking in the UK, but I never heard back. Maybe it is time for the UK to start to promote it. I think a couple of the bigger UK malls do it (the Bullring in Birmingham, The Trafford Centre in Manchester and the White Rose in Leeds as well as Bluewater); the NHS mention it on their website under ‘Get Fit For Free’ which is good, but maybe if the BHF got behind it, it could help us all.

At present I am happiest walking and running outside, but I can imagine in my dotage, I would love to join this merry band of mall walkers. And I will walk super fast if I am being pursued by anyone flogging me their will-writing services.

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Annie Bee x

It’s Prestigious To Be Busy + Walking

I was listening to Ruby Wax being interviewed on Radio 4 last weekend  – an exhausting woman  (I was driving at the time and almost had to pull over and have a little rest)  – and she said, “It is prestigious to be busy these days” and she did not mean it kindly. So true. If you are not standing up (Sitting Down Is The New Smoking) you risk becoming a social pariah. I hear there are people lap-topping away on a treadmill as I write (attached to a string around their neck, like glasses perhaps?).

What’s it all about?

As I mentioned in a previous post about Calories In, Calories Out, you will know (we all know) that activity is very important to helping and maintaining weight-loss, and combining exercise into your life is the best way of doing this. Every magazine/newspaper  I read tackles the subject ceaselessly  and it is a very big business (in the UK alone the diet business is thought to be worth £2bn). You might be sick to death of hearing about it, but the great news for all of us, but particularly for women over 50, is that walking is fine.This information is from The Guardian :

“Brisk walking reduces the risk of heart disease more effectively than running when the energy expenditure of both activities is balanced out, a study has found.

Researchers compared data from two studies of 33,060 runners and 15,045 walkers. For the same amount of energy used, walkers experienced greater health benefits than runners.

The effects on participants, who were aged 18 to 80, were observed over a period of six years.

Running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5% while walking reduced it by 9.3%.

Calorie for calorie, walking also had a stronger impact on heart disease risk factors. The risk of first-time high blood pressure was reduced by 4.2% by running and 7.2% by walking.

First-time high cholesterol risk was lowered by 4.3% by running and 7% by walking.

The risk of first-time diabetes was reduced by about 12% by both walking and running.

“Walking and running provide an ideal test of the health benefits of moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running because they involve the same muscle groups and the same activities performed at different intensities,” said study leader Dr Paul Williams, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

“The more the runners ran, and the walkers walked, the better off they were in health benefits. If the amount of energy expended was the same between the two groups, then the health benefits were comparable.

“People are always looking for an excuse not to exercise but now they have a straightforward choice to run or to walk and invest in their future health.”

The research is reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology”. 

This is fabulous news for people like me for whom The “R” Word (as my beautiful friend Christine used to call it) does not tend to fit into their daily list of exercise. But we can all have a brisk walk and indeed very recent research from the University of Cambridge suggests that just 20 minutes a day has a big impact http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/14/scientists-recommend-20-minute-daily-walk-premature-death

Hooray! Cancel my order for that treadmill for the study; no need to pretend that I can see a computer screen while on the move. And have a good look at Ms Beckham’s shoes below. Someone needs to have a word. It will end in tears.

treadmill work 2    treadmill pic

And finally, I can highly recommend the Nike+Running App (ignore The “R” Word) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/nike-gps/id387771637?mt=8.  I use it mainly to check how far I have gone and it keeps a record of the walks which I find very motivating.
Happy walking!

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Annie Bee x

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