Mall walkers lose weight, get healthy
September 14th, 2011
06:38 AM ET

Mall walkers lose weight, get healthy

Editor's note: September 19 begins "Every Body Walk Week," when the medical community is teaming up with local organizations to encourage people to simply walk more. Walking just 15 minutes a day can increase your life expectancy by 3 years.

I’m passionate about walking. I know that may sound odd to some but I’ve never really enjoyed running long distances or the crazy dance routines they make you do at health clubs.

I walk because it makes me feel alive, energized and ready to take on the day, regardless of what the day has in store for me. I have a group of friends that share my passion for walking, and we call ourselves the Iverson Mall Walkers.

Our group began in Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, in 1989 by our beloved founder Gwen Fields. She saw a need for the seniors in our community to get out of their houses and apartments and move their bodies in a safe and nurturing environment that, best of all, also happened to be free.

Our doctors were pressing us, our kids were pestering us, and well, we knew that exercise was vital for our health... not to mention that it would help in losing weight to fit into our pants around the holidays.

Gwen reached out to AARP members in the local chapter and got the Iverson Mall on board and away we went.

Now, 22 years later, we have over 450 active members and we’re adding more each day.

We walk three days a week from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. We start with a warm up - sometimes it’s the electric slide (Hey, we still know how to have fun!) - and we end each walk with a cool down so our limbs and our muscles won’t be tight the rest of the day. We have some walkers as young as 60 and others as old as... well who cares how old we are?

Since we started walking for exercise, we’re getting younger with each lap around the mall we take. We track how many miles we walk.  We have an incentive program and look after each other. If you’re out sick, rest assured we will be calling you, sending cards or coming to your door to help out until you are feeling better. The Iverson Mall Walkers is a family.

Our biggest fans are our doctors. Each of us has issues, whether it’s with diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. We like to brag to one another about how thrilled our doctors are after every appointment.

“All of your test results look great. Gloria, just keep walking!” Now that’s the kind of thing I like to hear during my check-ups.

From time to time we have doctors come in from different hospitals to give seminars and answer any questions we might have. And we’re all losing weight and looking fantastic... or so the store owners at the mall tell us.

The Iverson Mall Walkers go to health events all over the area together. We go to dances or out to dinner. Walking regularly has changed our lives.

The week of September 19 is "Every Body Walk Week" and we are taking part in it. It’s a week dedicated to educating and reminding people of all the benefits that can come from simply walking.

If you’re not walking today you need to start, regardless of how old you are. Walk with your kids to school, take your dog for a walk every day, or just walk with your spouse this evening before dinner.

You will be surprised how the very simple act of walking can change your life, make your heart and bones stronger and give you a brighter outlook on the world.

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Filed under: Exercise • Fitness • Senior Health

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Fran

    Cool! I like the positive message in this article. I'm definitely an advocate of walking. The author is right- running and other activities aren't for everyone. Walking is something that any person of any age can do as the article demonstrates. Keep it up!

    September 14, 2011 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mark

    One summer at college I worked as a host for summer camps... My job required plenty of walking around an entire campus. I lost 80lbs in 2 months.

    September 14, 2011 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • csb

      And what was your previous weight?

      September 14, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      was 300 – now 220

      September 15, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
  3. Susie Hall

    I'm 59 and have walked 1 marathon and getting ready to walk my fourth half marathon. I am blessed with really good health and I believe it's partially due to walking. As one who fights the weight battle, it helps for that as well as truly being a cure for depression. I strongly hope this article will help spark a desire for walking in people.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jennie

    Even though I have a nice sized yard for her to play in, I still get up and take my dog for a walk every morning. It does us both good and is a nice way to start the day. I am fortunate to live with year round nice climate where I can walk outdoors year round but if a mall is what works for you, that's great.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Michelle

    I worked at a mall while I was in college, and we had a group of mall walkers who came in every morning before the crowds. Those folks were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and seemed to be a great social network. Some of them told us how much more alive they felt, getting out of the house, socializing, feeling healthier than they had in years. They came in to exercise, rain or shine outdoors. If it was blisteringly hot, the mall was nice and cool. If it was rainy, the mall was dry. Some of them were great-grandparents. Some of them had been seriously obese when they started, and we watched them lose weight and get healthier by the day.

    If those folks can do it, anyone can do it.

    September 14, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. John

    The aerobic benefits of walking are the best kept secret of modern life. I saw this article a few weeks ago, http://blog.wannabuddy.com/2011/02/aerobic-benefits-of-walking.html, and realized how easy it is to get back into shape. I am already noticing a difference in how I feel. Good weather or bad, I'm walking the mall!

    September 14, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. angelheart174

    15 minutes' practice of Maha Meditation per day can definitely increase life expectancy by more than 3 years. This is the technique designed by Holy Ziguang Shang Shi to meet the needs of people in modern life, fast effect, significant result, and expedient means.

    September 14, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 3 Wheel Bikes For Adults

    Any form of exercise we do I think is good. It makes us look better as well as feel better. It is especially helpful the older we get.

    Here's a fun option for adults looking to exercise and have fun at the same time; http://TricyclesForAdultsReviews.com . Keep moving!

    September 14, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Greg

    Hey if these folks can motivate to walk three times a week, I should be able to get my lazy self out and moving some too. They motiavte me. Way to go iverson mall walkers! You are an inspiration to all of us, young and old! Someone needs to stick all of them on a Wheaties box soon.

    September 14, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jenna22

    When I hurt my knee while running I was so sad. I felt like I just had to sit around and wait for it to heal. Then I started walking every day just to get outside and at the time I felt like, "well I guess this will do until i can run again." I must say - I love walking for walking's sake! I never thought I would feel so good from just brisk walking. You really can get a work out in if you focus on your pace and breathing and it's amazing how many things in your nieghborhood you notice when you can walk by as opposed to run by. I have a new appreciation for the exercise of walking. It's certainly not just for seniors. I am still as fit as when i was a runner and I feel fabulous. Walkers of the world unite! You go Gloria, I'm right there with you.

    September 14, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Fly Guy in SJ

    I love walking, but wow, the mall is about the least pleasant place I can think of to walk. It's inside. It's too crowded. Noisy. No fresh air. Can't walk far in a straight line for dodging people. It's like loving cars and taking a Ferrari out for a spin during rush hour on the freeway.

    September 14, 2011 at 19:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • momofone

      Most mall walkers walk before the mall stores open for the day. They avoid the crowds and can keep a steady pace. Check with your local mall to see if they open their doors early for walkers, many do.

      September 14, 2011 at 20:22 | Report abuse |
  12. Elsa

    I too love walking. Sometimes, walking up to 6 miles. I also do some cardio during the week, but during the weekends, walking is on! I am 50 years old and in perfect health~Have to do more sit ups or something to lose the belly fat, but, I know that I feel fantastic!

    September 14, 2011 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. The straight skinny

    Every time I walk in the mall I come home lighter – in the pocketbook.

    September 14, 2011 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. olddragon

    Invest in a good pair of shoes and supportive insoles. Your feet and legs will thank you.

    September 15, 2011 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Yes I can

    Walking is a low impact form of exercise that works for many people, especially the elderly. Why walk in a mall? Walking outdoors in a park or on the beach would seem better.

    September 15, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RS

    Yes I can - walking in a mall protects you from the elements. It's a steady, comfortable temperature, and you can walk during the winter when it's freezing, and the summer when it's horribly hot. Makes sense to me.

    September 15, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Rudy Martinez

    This is a super article. My wife and I are trying to get out of our sedentary routines and get into a more active lifestyle. WE have many beautiful and asthetically pleasing mall in our area, the Santa Anita Mall, the Glendale Galleria and of of course, the South Coast Plaza. They are safe havens with a controlled temperature, air conditioned, and as RS has posted, you are protected from the elements. Who knows, maybe we can take our in-laws with us.

    September 26, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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    We have widest range of Walkers / Rollators suitable for adults, children and infants. Light weight, comfortable and mostly oven baked finished.


    November 1, 2011 at 07:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Fitinthemiddle.com is a website where you will find blogs on fitness program and how exercise is essential or many beneficial things. As we write fitness blog devoted to assisting people instruct how to lose your weight and get well by proper nourishment and work out.

    November 2, 2011 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. MrQuicktap1 EFT

    I think walking is one of the best cardio-things you can do for your self. It`s so easy to do everywhere, and the weight loss will come in a steady peace.
    So I loved the article.

    November 30, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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    I googled Mall Walkers because I have a new product I designed and make in the USA called Walkapocket. Please check out my website: http://www.walkapocket.com The "fanny pack" recently is making a comeback! Walkapocket is a modern update to the fanny pack: light weight, breathable, lays flat against your body, the tech fabrics stretches enough to carry your essentials: phone, keys, kleenex, chapstick, a "paper pocket" is included to hold your ID, credit card and money. Try one and get out walking and support a small business....thank you, Cathy

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