Your Winter Walking Plan: How to Walk Strong at the Mall

It's warm. There's coffee. Go ahead, grab your water bottle (and a friend!) and join the throngs of walkers already taking advantage of this genius workout spot.

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WHY: The mall is basically a free gym: a safe, clean spot where bathrooms and water fountains are plentiful and weather isn't an issue.

HOW: Check with your local spot about when they open and if they welcome mall walkers (some even have special programs; see opposite).

WATCH OUT: You're there to give your body — not your wallet — a workout. Most of the time, you should be going too fast to window-shop.

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Workout 1: Mix It Up

WARM-UP: Walk for five minutes at a comfortable pace.

MAIN WORKOUT: Walk briskly around the mall for 20 minutes. When you pass a big department store, do 10 jumping jacks. When you pass a kids' clothing store, do 10 squats. A jewelry store is 20 lunges (10 on each leg), and a food court is 10 marches in place, emphasis on high knees. When you get to an empty bench, take the opportunity to do 10 push-ups (rest your hands on the bench).

COOLDOWN: Walk for five minutes at a comfortable pace.

MAKE IT HARDER: Increase the number of repetitions of each exercise that you do by one every week. Bonus cardio move: If your mall has stairs, walk briskly up and down them every time you encounter a flight (or two!). This bumps your heart rate up even more and helps tone your legs and glutes while you're at it.

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Workout 2: Tune In

The mall is a great place to safely listen to music when you walk (no cars to worry about). Make a playlist or listen to the radio as you groove through this workout. With each song, change your effort level.

WARM-UP: First song: Walk slowly.

MAIN WORKOUT:

  • Second song: Walk moderately.
  • Third song: Walk quickly.
  • Fourth song: Walk moderately.
  • Fifth song: Walk slowly.

Repeat pattern: Go slow, moderate, quick, moderate, slow, until you've finished your 30 minutes.

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COOLDOWN: End on a slow song.

MAKE IT HARDER: After your slow song warm-up, rotate between moderate and quick songs, throwing in a slow song only when you're really huffing and puffing and need to dial the pace back.

This story originally appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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