Walking is a great way to stay fit and get outdoors, but the reality is that weather can often get in the way of enjoying nature while you walk. It can be hard to get your steps in when winter brings endless days of snow and freezing temperatures, thunderstorms rage all day, or a summer heatwave makes outdoor exercise dangerous.
Fortunately, there are many places to walk indoors that can be just as enjoyable as outdoor walking so you can get your steps and stay healthy. With a little creativity and an open mind, you can find opportunities beyond the mall to get your steps in no matter the weather.
General Indoor Walking Tips
There are plenty of indoor walking locations where you can get in a brisk, fitness walk. Indoor walking tends to be more cramped, however, with less space and more people. Following some basic indoor walking rules of thumb leads to a more enjoyable walk:
- Be respectful of your environment. Don’t block people’s view at a museum or interrupt the checkout line at a store. If you can’t walk easily because of crowds, you might need to find a different indoor walking spot.
- Time your walks to avoid busy periods at your chosen location. A weekend afternoon is probably not the best time for a fast-paced walk at a museum or store.
- Be flexible and adjust your walking speed and gait to your location. Power walking in a library or supermarket is likely to disturb others, but is just fine in a mall during off-peak hours.
- Use audio entertainment to spice up any location. A great podcast, audiobook, or music playlist can make any indoor walk an exciting journey. It might also help you stay focused and reach your step goals.
- If listening to music or audio, do make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings. It’s often a good idea to leave one earphone off. While it’s probably not dangerous to walk indoors engrossed in an audiobook, you’re more likely to bump into someone (or something).
- If you walk at a store or market, especially if it’s a local or smaller store or boutique, consider picking up at least one thing when you’ve finished your workout. A larger, big-box store has enough space for many people to walk, but you can save time by working in errands along with your walking.
Visiting a museum for your indoor walking exercise means you can enjoy some culture and sights while walking. You can choose your walking environment — you might prefer to walk at a modern art museum or indulge your inner science buff with some natural history. An aquarium could be a peaceful indoor walking option.
Keep in mind that popular museums can get quite crowded on weekends and holidays, so plan your visit at a quieter time. Make sure you choose a museum that’s big enough to provide an interesting walk, and always respect the other visitors while walking — don’t block anyone’s view or interrupt a tour. Many museums have free or discounted days which can save you some money for your walks!
Big Box Stores
Your local Walmart or Target might be the perfect indoor walking space. With wide aisles and lots of space, you should have plenty of room to walk. Walking in a big box store can get a bit repetitive, so it can help to come up with some creative challenges to keep yourself entertained during your workout. Try looking for the most expensive item in each section as you pass, or imagine how you’d use an odd combination of items. Podcasts are also a great way to stay engaged while walking in a store.
Just like a museum, these kinds of stores can be packed at popular shopping times, and that could impact your walk. Try to visit on a weekday morning when stores are less crowded. You can get your morning walk in away from the weather, and as a bonus you can do your shopping when you’ve got your steps in!
Indoor or Covered Farmers Markets
With the rise in popularity of farmers markets, many cities feature an indoor or partially covered market. This option offers the best of both worlds: you’ll be indoors (or at least somewhat protected from the elements), but surrounded by fresh produce and lovely flowers. You might get to taste some samples along the way, and you can go home with fresh vegetables for a healthy dinner.
With a little research, you may be able to find facilities in your area that admit the public for activities like walking. Colleges, schools, rec centers, and other organizations might have the perfect setting for an indoor walk. Though you may have to put in a little more work to find these places, they are likely to be less crowded than more public settings like malls and museums. You might also discover new places in your community while looking for a spot to walk.
If you want to add a bit more challenge to your indoor walks, find a location with plenty of stairs to walk. Some museums have lots of steps to climb, and many large movie theaters have multiple staircases (though you might have to buy a ticket). Office buildings and malls are also some great places to find stairs to walk up and down. If you’re new to stairs, they can be a bit more intense than a normal hilly incline walk, so it’s often good to take them one flight at a time to see how your body reacts.
These are just a few of the places you could choose for indoor walking. If you still need ideas, think about where you and your friends like to spend time when the weather’s bad. Wherever that happens to be, there’s probably a way to use that space for walking. If your kids play indoor sports in the winter, you might be able to get a good walk in around their tennis court or indoor soccer field while watching them play. Your city might have a historic train station that could be an interesting place for a walk.
Remember that you don’t have to get all of your steps inside. Use breaks in the weather, and cold weather or warm weather walking tips to get steps outside when you can, then go inside when you can’t. Once you start looking at the possibilities for indoor walking spots, you’ll realize that bad weather doesn’t have to stop you from getting your steps in. An air-conditioned store on a hot day or an interesting museum on a rainy one can make your indoor walk as enjoyable as your outdoor walking workouts!
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