Mall walking is still a thing, DeForest school gets in on the fun
DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - Indoor walking programs help adults stay active in winter months.
Getting 10,000 steps in everyday is a fitness goal for adults recommended by the CDC, but not everyone enjoys trudging on the treadmill or walking outside during the winter months.
At the West Towne Mall, mall walkers take their laps around the indoor shopping center. Some walkers log 5Ks or even 10Ks walking the perimeter of the building.
For Virgil and Anita Landry, the mall is the perfect place to get their exercise in.
“It’s just a real blessing we can do this,” said Virgil.
At 93 and 94 years old, the couple has been on many walks over their 72 years of marriage.
“We walk holding hands,” said Virgil. “So we can stabilize each other a little bit.”
Anita says she feels a sense of security when walking alongside her husband. She’s also grateful for the flat walking surface and benches where the pair can take a rest.
“It’s so easy to say ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘I can’t do this anymore,’” said Anita. “But if you really care about yourself or your mate, you walk.”
Mall walking is nothing new, but the recent closure of indoor malls, like the Westgate Mall in Madison, leaves fewer free indoor places for people to walk.
Kathy Schultz says she believes indoor spaces like this are vital for keeping communities active.
“People go there for walking and for socialization,” said Schultz. “I think that not having that available would be detrimental to the community.”
Schultz has been a member of the Dairyland Walkers for 25 years. She’s says she enjoys walking with others and has made friendships through the organization.
“I think having groups available to walk with motivates you to walk with them and by yourself,” said Schultz.
The group is the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Volkssport Association, a national walking club. The Dairyland Walkers host walking events, both inside and outside, for people to partake walks year-round.
“If you’re thinking about starting a walking routine, start now in November,” said Schultz. “Why wait until January?”
Patrick Jones, the Vice President of Dairyland Walkers, says walking is not a competitive experience.
“Everybody walks at their own pace and it can take you as long as you want,” said Jones. “It’s fine to exercise by yourself, but it’s actually more fun to do it with somebody else.”
SCHOOL DISTRICTS STEPPING UP
For those who live outside of Madison, driving to the mall to walk everyday during winter isn’t always ideal.
Before dawn during the week, Julie and Mark McCarville get their steps in at DeForest High School.
“It’s nice to get it done early in the morning,” said Julie McCarville. “The goal is complete.”
The DeForest School District has resurrected its community indoor walking program. From November through April, walkers can walk inside the High School from 6:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. or the Middle School from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We used to have to travel. It was a 25-minute round trip to Madison and back in order to get inside to do walking,” said Mark McCarville. “Now, we have it right here in our hometown to do it.”
Kathy Williams, the School Community Relations Coordinator for DeForest, worked to make this program safe for walkers, students, and staff.
“We wanted to balance safety with also making our buildings welcoming and open to our communities,” she explained.
Walkers must complete a background check and pay a $10 fee to receive a walking badge. While on school grounds, the walkers must always wear their badge to signal they are visitors.
“They don’t have access to our buildings all of the time,” said Williams. “Just on those specific days, those specific months, for that short window of time.”
The McCarvilles also enjoy experiencing the hustle and bustle ahead of a busy school day.
“It’s nice to see activity in the building,” said Julie.
Williams is hopeful other school districts will follow suit and offer similar programs in their own communities.
“It’s been worth the effort to put it into place because the feedback from our community has been very positive,” she added.
WHERE YOU CAN WALK FOR FREE OR FOR A LOW-FEE:
Send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an indoor community walking program to add to our list.
- Year-Round Mall Walking
- West or East Towne Mall
- Walkers can take part in mall walking during the shopping center’s normal business hours.
- Dairyland Walkers
- See website for more details on the next group walk.
- DeForest School District - November through April
- Call (608) 842-6503 for more information
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