Bleisure Bits: Walk the mall for exercise on a business trip

Bob Tinney

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2015 file photo, Bob Tinney, of Pinch, W.Va., does laps inside the Charlestown Town Center mall in Charleston, W.Va. Walking in malls is also a way for business travelers to get exercise while on the road. (AP Photo/Charleston Daily Mail, Tom Hindman)

By Dorothy Abernathy, Associated Press

Exercise can be tough when you’re traveling. Sure, many hotels have fitness rooms — but it’s not always convenient to tote athletic shoes and work-out clothes.

I get around that by trying to arrange a brisk walk during my workday or in the evening, generally at a shopping mall. I find that airports and train stations are good places to walk, too.

As I plan a trip, I look at whether there’s a mall on the way or near my destination. I plug the address into my calendar so I can easily access it with my GPS. I try to wear comfortable shoes for work that will also suffice for walking. But if that’s impossible, I carry a pair of crushable shoes that don’t take up much space in my suitcase.

Often, I can get a good walk in during a lunch break and then have a quick lunch before I resume my trip.

Walking in a mall offers several advantages over walking on city streets. You don’t have to worry about bad weather or about safety when walking after dark. Also, you don’t have to stop for traffic or walk signals.

I’ve walked in shopping malls throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, in cities and in smaller towns, from Norfolk, Virginia, to St. Clairsville, Ohio. The malls in more rural places are smaller, so you wind up repeating your circuit more times. But they tend to be less crowded, too.

Do I have a favorite mall? Not really. From a walking standpoint, they all seem rather similar except for size. I do prefer a mall that doesn’t have a lot of skylights because they can get a bit warm when you’re exercising. It’s great to find a mall with a parking garage (like MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk, Virginia, or Charleston Town Center in Charleston, West Virginia).

If all else fails, I’ve been known to walk the halls of my hotel, although it’s virtually impossible to get a brisk walk that way. A better last-ditch option for me has been to carry a playlist of dance tunes in my smartphone. When I get to my room, I flip on some disco music and dance for 30 minutes.

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