Walking, Talking and Typing

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Forget the annual sales or that pair of shoes you noticed in the window. There are individuals making frequent trips to the mall for a purpose that does not involve lugging around recent purchases or dodging the weekend crowds.

These individuals are part of a mall walking program, a trend that is expanding as more people recognize its potential health and social benefits. And Aileen England, a Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook (GRL) staff member, has jumped on the bandwagon to share her experiences.

According to Mary Belanich, who works at the Ballston ‘Commonwalk’ through the Virginia Hospital Center, people are not just joining these programs to shed some weight.

“The program makes members feel better, gives them a reason to get out of the house, and benefits their health and spirit because they really care about one another,” she said.

While mall walking provides opportunities to get back on the physical wellness track, doctors and rehabilitation specialists are continually referring individuals to these beneficial programs as well.

And who would be opposed to making some friends in the process? In her program which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, Mary said the participants view their peers as an extension of their families as they participate in the program events as well as outside engagements.

An Insider’s Perspective – Aileen England
Aileen, a former schoolteacher, joined the GRL staff in 1998. Always seeking new opportunities to stay active physically and socially, Aileen was very excited to begin her mall walking adventure.

The first step in her journey as a new mall walker was to call different locations to see who offered such a program. She came up with a chart, as seen on this page, displaying the schedules of each mall’s program.

As she made her rounds of calls, Aileen started a blog through GRL, in which she can now share her experiences as a mall walker, and perhaps inspire others to take part in this beneficial opportunity.

After completing her registration to join the ‘Tyson’s Trekkers,’ Aileen has participated in four different sessions while practicing her newly learned ‘Chi-Walking’ skills. She even received a ‘Tyson’s Trekkers’ t-shirt, a list of stores and restaurants that honor members of the mall walking club with special discounts and information for various health screenings sponsored by INOVA Fairfax Hospital.

Her blog offers insight into the process of joining a program and the information you need to start. According to Aileen, there is a designated parking area, and although Tyson’s is technically closed, there are several places open for participants to enjoy coffee and breakfast before or after their walk.

As she stated in her blog, “There are all ages of people out there walking, having coffee, chatting and meeting with friends.”

Without the shopping crowds, Aileen has enjoyed taking in the surroundings of the mall, as individuals are there to monitor the distance participants have traveled at their desired pace.

No matter your age or your goals, mall walking offers a great opportunity to get involved and enhance your physical wellness.

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