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The In Place to Pace: Many Keep Fit in Comfort at Shopping Malls

September 23, 1988|KAREN NEWELL YOUNG | Karen Newell Young is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

You get to the mall at 9:50 a.m. just before the stores open. Then you see them--smiling, sweating and rounding another turn in their exercise togs. They are the mall walkers, and they started stretching exercises while you were still sipping coffee with Bryant Gumble.

In the last few years walkers have discovered the pleasures of logging their laps at shopping centers before the stores open. Unfettered by smog or cyclists, the mall walkers can stride whenever they like, regardless of weather conditions or traffic patterns. And it is easy to keep track of distances once you know the size of the mall.

Many of the county's shopping centers have either organized walking programs--like those at the City Shopping Center in Orange and MainPlace/Santa Ana--or allow informal striders to loop through their halls. Nationwide, the trend is also in full step. Walkers from North Carolina to Oregon are pacing themselves at the local shopping center.

Alan and Daisy Brood, members of the MainPlace Pacers Club, have lost nearly a dozen pounds between them since they began walking in June. By walking 1 1/2 to 2 miles a day, the Santa Ana couple hope to do battle with Alan's heart condition and Daisy's diabetes. But beyond that, "It just feels good," says Daisy.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday December 23, 1988 Orange County Edition Orange County Life Part 9 Page 6 Column 6 Life Desk 2 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
In a recent shopping column on people who walk malls for exercise, it was reported that pacers at The City Shopping Center in Orange are eligible to receive a $50 gift certificate from the mall after completing 100 miles. In fact, only the first pacer to complete 100 miles is eligible for the gift certificate.

"I feel great," says Alma Keller, who walks every weekday. "It really invigorates your mind and your body. I used to walk on the street but there you have all the noise and pollution. Here you're not exposed to the elements."

Sponsored by MainPlace and St. Joseph Hospital, the MainPlace Pacers were launched last June to encourage community residents to participate in a fitness program. Stretching and warm-up exercises are led every Monday and Wednesday by fitness instructor Mary Jane Steed. Information on aerobic activities is provided and all Pacers receive a free newsletter announcing health programs at St. Joseph.

One orbit around the mall's upper level is half a mile, and markers are posted at quarter-mile intervals. The MainPlace Pacers log as many laps as they want, with most walking between 1 1/2 and three miles. Lisa Hudson, a health educator at the hospital, says that several of the 140 participants have reported positive results, including a woman who had back surgery recently and credits her recovery in large part to her daily walks.

"Walking really does work," says Hudson. "That's all there is to it."

A few freeways away at the City Shopping Center, walkers are striding for fitness and profit. The City Pacers walk in half-mile circles around the the center, keeping track of their mileage. After the first 50 miles, walkers receive a free T-shirt. After 100 miles, they receive a $50 gift certificate redeemable at any store in the center.

Sponsored by the City Shopping Center and UCI Medical Center, the 2 1/2-year-old program offers walking between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Mall officials say nearly 200 are participating in City Pacers.

Steed, who has been walking for 10 years and also teaches sports walking at several community colleges and business programs, offers this advice for mall walkers:

For cardiovascular conditioning, aerobic walking must be done three to four times a week. Alternate days are preferable.

Walking should be done at a level of intensity to increase heart rate. For the moderately fit this requires at least 15 minutes of walking. Once the heart rate is increased, it needs to be sustained, usually achieved by 30 minutes of brisk walking.

The aerobic period should be preceded by a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and followed by a 5- to 10-minute cool-down.

Walking with good arm action will firm and strengthen the muscles of the upper arms, back, abdomen, buttocks, thighs and calves.

Registration is required to become a member of the MainPlace Pacers. Sign up at St. Joseph Hospital Health Promotion office at 396 S. Main St., Orange, anytime during business hours. Or register at MainPlace between 9 and 10 a.m. on the upper level of the parking deck by the bridge on the west side of the mall.

To participate in the City Pacers, pick up a mileage card at the information booth on the lower level. Call (714) 771-8040 for more information on MainPlace Pacers, or (714) 634-8500, Ext. 255, for City Pacers.

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