The Bellis Fair Mall Walk

Early Morning at Bellis Fair Mall, Bellingham, WA
Early Morning at Bellis Fair Mall, Bellingham, WA…welcoming the Mall Walker Community

Have you ever gone to the mall to walk? Before this week, the idea of mall walking was a fuzzy concept for me, hovering somewhere between “I’ve heard of it” and “you’ve got to be kidding.” I might have even rolled my eyes and chuckled at the thought. Well, my experiences of the past two days have totally humbled me. I am now a champion of mall walkers everywhere and their mission to maintain and enhance their physical and emotional health and well-being by taking advantage of this clean, warm, indoor venue for walking.

Strong winds are common in the Northwest’s Puget Sound, making walking in our thickly wooded parks and streets, a bit risky. These strong winds frequently topple trees and any wind advisory means walkers should stay out of the woods until the winds calm down. It was this scenario, a few days ago, that gave me the idea to try mall walking and I wasn’t the only one! There were probably 50 – 75 seasoned mall walkers there. All ages. All abilities. All cool.

Family of three walking at Bellis Fair Mall
Family of three walking at Bellis Fair Mall
These people were MOVING! I thought they would lap me twice, and I'm no slowpoke! ( :
These people were MOVING! They lapped me once and I thought they might lap me twice, and I’m no slowpoke! ( :
Mall walking is awesome for those needing an even surface
Mall walking is awesome for those needing an even and stable surface
This gal pushed a stroller with her two dogs. Sometimes they walked and sometimes they strolled.
This gal pushed a stroller with her two dogs. Sometimes the dogs walked and sometimes they rode. Pretty sweet.
As people warm up, they leave their coats and hats on the food court chairs
As people warm up, they leave their coats and hats on the food court chairs and keep on moving!
Apres-Walking social time at Starbucks, open at 7 am
Apres-Walking social time at Starbucks, which opens at 7:30 am, in the food court
A train of walkers in Bellis Fair Mall
A train of walkers in Bellis Fair Mall

Tips, Suggestions, and Observations from Two Mornings of Mall Walking:

  • Our local mall, Bellis Fair, opens its doors at 7 a.m., year round, Monday – Saturday, to provide a warm and welcoming space for walking. It is located just north of Bellingham, at the intersection of Meridian Street and I-5.
  • There is mall walking etiquette. Everyone walks anti-clock wise. I suppose you could walk clockwise but no one did.
  • Mall walking is an inclusive and social atmosphere. People greet you and say ‘good morning’ and seem genuinely happy.
  • I walked during the holidays, so the music was 100% Christmas. I’m thinking the music is normally soft rock.
  • Some people had ear buds in, listening to news, music, books on tape, This American Life, or whatever. Great idea!
  • You don’t need to bundle up. The mall turns the lights and heat up at 8:00 a.m. because the big stores, such as Target, Kohl’s, and Macy’s, open then. During non-holiday hours, lights and heat probably go up at 9 a.m.
  • After my walk on my first day, I went to Macy’s (Yes Lisa, my Macy’s guru, I thought of you!) and did a little shopping before it got busy.
  • This could be a great way to entice teenagers to walk with you. First a walk, then a shop!
  • This is the ultimate window shopping experience. I was told once that modern malls are the equivalent of ancient shopping bazaars with their textiles, food vendors, jewelry, etc. and it’s so true!
  • There are bathrooms and water all along the way. Never a bad thing.
  • One seasoned walker told me that “one full lap, without cutting corners, and twice around the food court,” was one mile. I would agree. I did four laps minus the “twice around the food court,” in just over an hour.
  • Here’s a very informative booklet on the benefits of mall walking published by the CDC and University of Washington: Guide to Mall Walking
  • Mall walking is a good use of this huge, vacant, indoor space and it’s far more interesting than walking on a track.

Mall walking is a definite alternative to walking in severe weather. It’s a good “go-to” walking venue when the winds are strong. I’ll probably continue to walk primarily in nature, but it’s fun to mix it up and experience another community that promotes walking. See you at the mall!

~Ann