Walkin’ … Just for the health of it

Michelle Seeber

Mall walkers find the early-morning shelter of North Plains Mall ideal for all-weather exercise.

Can walking help you live longer?
Winnie Moore, 93, of Clovis, says it can.
She “faithfully” walks five days a week at North Plains Mall to maintain low cholesterol and a healthy heart.
She said she started walking at the mall 17 years ago, after a doctor told her she had an enlarged heart and high cholesterol.
“He recommended walking,” Moore said from her home. “I think it’s contributed to my long life.”
Moore is one of about 100 people who walk at the mall for exercise.
The mall, which opens at 5 a.m. every day for walkers, provides a big arena for this form of exercise, while protecting participants from the weather, rocky surfaces and animals.
“It started 17 years ago, before I was here,” said Cindy Bannister, the mall’s property manager. “The numbers of walkers vary from day to day.”
Lynn Cleveland, 80, of Clovis, walks at the mall twice a day, Monday through Friday, and once a day, Saturday and Sunday.
“It keeps me healthy,” she said. “It’s very good for me. It’s good for my mental health.”
Cleveland said she generally starts walking at 5 a.m. and that she walks about 5 miles a day.
“If you walk all the little doodles, you have to walk around the mall three times to cover a mile,” Cleveland said. “We measured it one day.”
Unlike Moore, Cleveland didn’t start walking at the recommendation of a doctor. She “just started doing it.”
Asked if it helped her lose weight, she said she didn’t know.
“I never weigh myself,” she said. “I wear a size 6 to size 8, depending on what I buy.”
According to the Center for Disease Control based in Atlanta, Ga., the 1996 Surgeon General’s Report recommended a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity at moderate intensity on most, if not all, days of the week.
“The benefits are greatly reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and other maladies,” the report said. “Walkers have also been known to live longer and live to a healthy, active old age in greater numbers than their couch potato friends.”
The CDC recommended contacting a medical doctor for a checkup or consultation before starting a walking program, however.
A CDC Web site that described clothing to wear for walking said to choose loose, comfortable attire.
For car keys, and other articles, the walker should wear a hip pack, and one that includes a built-in water-bottle holder, the CDC said.
Since shoes are the chief walking tool, they should be big enough for the feet to expand in while walking, the Web site said.
“A well-fit pair of running shoes is the best answer for most walkers,” the CDC said. They should be replaced every 500 miles.
Posture also is important, according to the CDC Web site.
The back should be straight with the pelvis and hips tucked in.
For added exercise, the walker should swing the arms back and forth, keeping elbows close to the sides.
“Don’t hold the elbows in the air like a chicken,” the Web site said. “It reduces momentum.”
Jay D. Denham, another Clovis resident who walks at the mall, doesn’t worry about momentum.
Denham, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Feb. 20 and, like Moore, has been walking for 17 years, said he “just walks.”
“I think it’s good for you,” he said.
Asked if he thought it contributed to his long life, he said, “I do.”