Mall Walkers

Article By: Allison Pennell

When most people go to a mall, the purpose behind the excursion is shopping. However, people have been finding a more rewarding—and less expensive—reason for these revenue-seeking facilities. Exercise.

Amy Cashwell, Kathy Triplette and Nicki Lane decided in March that they wanted to try Zumba. However, it wasn’t long before these church friends realized that perhaps this activity was not for them. “You get frustrated when you have young girls who can actually follow the routines and you can’t,” said Triplette, laughing as she and the other ladies recalled the experience.

So, that is how they arrived at Plan B—walking. And when weather conditions don’t cooperate, that means walking at Hanes Mall. “We all knew we could walk, we didn’t have to be a member, and it’s free,” Triplette added. Our slogan became, “Well, at least we will move for an hour,” said Cashwell. And that is what they do in the mornings, twice a week. Looking at the pedometer attached to her waistband, Lane said the goal is 12,000 steps or 90 minutes, which usually amounts to six miles.

This group, some days numbering as many as six, meets at 9 a.m. and walks the downstairs loop from J.C. Penny to Sears till 10 a.m. Once J.C. Penny opens, they continue to the other side of the mall. While the ladies have lost a combined 25 pounds, they have found this bi-weekly activity is about more than just getting healthy. “We have a great time of fellowship,” said Lane. “We’ve learned so much about each other’s lives and children.” Debbie Gambill echoed her, saying it’s a time for companionship, something to look forward to. Whatever the reason, they enjoy it. “It’s fun. We DO want to get healthy. But it is just fun,” Triplette said. “And we all feel better than when we started.”

Joan and Bobby Mobley

54ff-Mall-Walkers-2-WEBMarried 57 years, Joan and Bobby Mobley have been walking regularly at Hanes Mall since 2008. They chose the mall as their destination because they wanted a place that was safe with flexible hours. “It gives us a reason to get up and get around since we retired,” Mrs. Mobley said. She also has an equally important reason that most can relate to. “I have to exercise so I can eat. “We don’t do it for fun; we do it for our health.”

They walk Monday through Saturday, usually arriving at 10 a.m. They continue on for 90 minutes, averaging about five miles, Mrs. Mobley said. They, too, have a set routine. “We go in the entrance at Ruby Tuesday, walk through all the big stores twice downstairs. The last lap is upstairs, and we end at Chick-Fil-A to get a free coffee…as our reward.” The Mobleys have gained other rewards, as well. Mrs. Mobley says walking regularly has helped the arthritis in her back so much so that she is no longer on arthritis medication. The exercise has also helped with her cholesterol.

Don Watson

Don Watson has been walking at the mall six days a week for about four years. “My reasons are two-fold,” Watson said. “One, it helps the fitness of my cardiovascular system. Two, it gives me a chance to interact with people.” He says walking three to four miles each day has helped keep his blood pressure in check and his cholesterol level normal. “If I miss a day, the next day I can tell.”

Watson said he walks the inner parameter of every department store on the first and second floors, sometimes stopping to discuss the weather, current events and deeper subjects, like Christianity.” “I meet a lot of people and get to give and receive smiles. A smile is good for everybody!”

Michael Earle, Forsyth Technical Community College Physical Education Instructor/Program Coordinator

Earle says walking is the most popular form of exercise in the United States and is a great way for beginners to start an exercise program. And as the mall walkers have already come to realize, Earle said, walking, like other forms of cardiorespiratory exercise, provides numerous benefits to an individual’s health, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, improved sleep, increased bone density and improved self-esteem.

Earle, an avid runner himself, confirms that walking can definitely help conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis, which Mrs. Mobley has learned first-hand. “Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that improves joint mobility and increases flexibility and strength. Often, walking/exercise is the best prescription.” And why is it that people who walk claim to just “feel better”? Earle says people acquire that “feel better” sensation because exercise causes endorphins to be released in the brain. “These endorphins act as naturally-occurring pain relievers and can induce a state of euphoria,” he said.

These mall walkers can certainly relate, especially the ladies from Old Town Baptist, who have been told they were having WAY too much fun!


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