Mall Walking: Saudi Arabia’s Thriving Fitness Trend for Health and Safety

In recent years, mall walking, also known as ‘mallercise,’ has emerged as a popular fitness trend in Saudi Arabia. The country’s malls, providing safe and comfortable spaces, have become havens for people seeking a convenient and cost-free alternative to traditional gyms, especially during the scorching summer months. With a growing number of individuals engaging in this form of exercise, the trend is transforming the way Saudis stay active while enjoying the perks of shopping and staying fit simultaneously.

For many Saudi residents, mall walking offers a safe and secure environment, particularly for women who may feel more comfortable walking in a mall with security personnel present. Manal Alanazi, a 40-year-old Riyadh resident, shared her preference for nighttime mall walking due to the added security provided by guards stationed at various mall entrances.

Ahmed Saeed, a mall security guard at Riyadh’s Al-Nakheel Mall, confirmed the growing popularity of mall-walking among men. He mentioned that during the holy month of Ramadan, the trend sees a significant surge as people try to maintain or lose weight ahead of the festive Eid shopping period.

As the number of malls in the country continues to increase, so does the community of mall walkers. However, not all malls are suitable for exercising, as some lack the space or layout for proper walking routines. Mall-goer Saeed Abdullah, a retired engineer, highlighted the importance of choosing a mall with an indoor running track for his daily walking routine in Dammam.

Mall walking has also proven to be beneficial for older citizens who may be averse to crowded gyms or face physical limitations that restrict participation in other sports. Fitness trainer Fatmah Alomar noted that most gym members are young girls and middle-aged women, and to attract more senior citizens, gyms have introduced indoor running tracks and specialized machines for those with knee pain.

In a bid to promote physical fitness and well-being, Riyadh’s ambitious project, Sports Boulevard, aims to offer a plethora of sports facilities, including a massive linear park, to the city’s residents. Ahmad bin Askar, the chief communications officer of Sports Boulevard, envisions the project as an alternative and superior option to mall exercise, encouraging people of all ages, including senior citizens, to embrace grassroots sports in a green and modern environment.

The mall-walking trend exemplifies Saudi Arabia’s innovative approach to staying physically active and underscores the value the society places on health and fitness. With the emergence of mall walking as a popular pastime, residents have found creative and enjoyable ways to prioritize their well-being. As Sports Boulevard takes shape, it is expected to further enhance opportunities for exercise and community engagement, ensuring that fitness remains an integral part of Saudi Arabian lifestyle and culture.

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