Mall Walkers

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 9:46am

Staying healthy and warm, walking club heads to the shopping mall with no intention of buying.

Now that the holiday season is winding down, the shopping mall may be the last place you want to be today.

But there is a large community of people who lace up their sneakers and hit the malls without any intention of spending any money.

It's not even January 1st yet and many already feel the weight of their resolution to start exercising.

Joining a gym can be a little intimidating, not to mention expensive.

And an outdoor work-out can be downright freezing this time of year.

Mall walker Moose Barnett says "why would I go outside and walk when I can walk in here where it's warm?"

Warm, safe, and free. The mall is 60-year-old Moose Barnett's favorite workout spot.

These are the Mall Walkers of America and nearly every mall has them. They come for the exercise and end up with a support system of close friends.

This group in Charlotte, North Carolina is also treated to a free health and wellness center located right in the mall where anyone can walk in to check their blood pressure and chat with registered nurses about anything from healthy recipes to recent diagnoses.

Monifa Drayton of Carolinas Medical Center University says "we notice when someone is missing for a while and we'll call, we are very vested and very connected to them. Everyone here has a very strong sense of family."

Doctors say exercise and a strong social network can help prevent or ease depression and isolation, and that's something you can't buy in a store.

Many mall-walking groups also meet on a monthly basis for breakfast and to hear invited doctors and nurses talk about health issues.

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