Dedicated walkers get their workouts year-round at malls in the Twin Cities area, either on their own or as members of mall-sponsored walking clubs.
The U.S. Surgeon General has said that brisk walking 30 minutes a day can improve health significantly. But mall walking isn't just good exercise; it's often a good deal. Members of the Pacers Mall Walking Club at Northtown Mall in Blaine are treated to coffee and muffins at a monthly meeting where health care workers from Mercy and United hospitals talk about health-related issues. People who join the walking club at Knollwood Mall in St. Louis Park receive discounts from several mall stores and a registered nurse is available once a month for blood pressure screening.
Most Twin Cities shopping centers encourage walkers. Many open their doors early -- before stores are open -- with walkers in mind. Several malls have teamed with area hospitals and mall stores to establish walking programs.
Here is a list of malls and walking-related information.
Har Mar Mall, Roseville: The Roseville Area Walking Club meets at the mall once a month through April. For information about the walking club, including discounts at participating stores, awards and health, fitness and nutrition presentations, call Little Canada Parks and Recreation, 484-2177.
Rosedale Mall, Roseville: Opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday for walkers.
Maplewood Mall, Maplewood: The shopping center sets aside 7 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday for mall walkers. For information about the mall walking program, call 770-3862.
Ridgedale Mall, Minnetonka: Opens at 6:30 a.m. for walkers. A pamphlet at the mall office, near the north entrance on the second floor, gives advice on the best route to walk and the distance it covers.
Northtown Mall, Blaine: The Pacers Mall Walking Club holds monthly meetings September through March. The next meeting will be at 8 a.m. Jan. 20 in the food court. Members receive a card that helps them record the number of hours walked. One lap inside the mall is one mile.
Knollwood Mall, St. Louis Park: Members of the mall walking club receive discounts from participating stores. Meetings are held monthly September through November and again January through May. Healthcare workers from Methodist Hospital give presentations at the meetings, held at 9 a.m. the first Thursday at Applebee's. A registered nurse is in the food court at 8 a.m. the fourth Thursday each month for free blood pressure screenings. The mall is open 7 to 10 a.m. daily, except some holidays, for walkers.
Southdale Mall, Edina: The mall is revising its Southdale Trekkers walking program. It opens at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday for walkers.
Mall of America, Bloomington: Yearly membership ($14 per person or $20 per couple) to Mall Stars walking club includes an introductory walking for fitness session with a professional walker, monthly health seminars, a newsletter with fitness tips and discounts from participating stores. A membership card helps walkers keep track of hours and distance walked. (Four mall laps equal 3 miles.) The mall opens at 7 a.m. daily for all walkers, not just club members. For more information about the club, call Bloomington Community Education 885-8500.