Taking Neshaminy Mall's New Offering In Stride

Posted: February 06, 1992

Strolling past the closed entrance to Sears, Eugene Saloky paced himself during his first lap on the Neshaminy Mall walking track.

"I walk here three or four times a week," Saloky, 67, said as he sauntered through the Bensalem Township shopping center before most shops opened for business on Friday.

The Northeast Philadelphia resident and more than 100 other walking enthusiasts arrived early to sign up for the new Neshaminy Striders mall- walking fitness program, sponsored by Lower Bucks Hospital, U.S. Healthcare and mall management. From now on, walkers who record the miles they accrue will qualify for prizes such as shoelaces and a sweatshirt.

The mall has invited the walkers to stroll the building's two-thirds-of-a- mile path while stores are closed. Walking hours are 7 to 10 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

"I walk in several malls and for me it's purely for health," said strider Barbara Ewing of Richboro. "The stores are just incidental."

Olga Maxymuik of Bensalem said the mall-walking hours were perfect for her lifestyle.

"I'm usually here early for breakfast and I'm gone before the stores open," she said, adding that it may take dozens of trips before she reaches 100 miles and qualifies for the free sweatshirt.

Mall management believes many of the walkers will stick around to shop after their daily exercising, so business may pick up rather than fall, said John Ferrante, a mall marketing representative.

Striders have been asked to wear a small triangular identification badge for security reasons.

Participants also sign a waiver confirming they are in good health and freeing the mall from liability for injury.

Improving one's health is the main objective of the program sponsors, said Katie Lopresti, a wellness coordinator of Lower Bucks Hospital.

She and volunteer Luressa Armstrong administered free blood pressure tests at Friday's sign-ups.

"It's aerobic," Lopresti said of the walking as exercise. "It will help your heart and your cardiovascular system."

Alice Derr of Holland said she decided to participate because the mall featured walking as an organized activity.

"I'm a homemaker and I think this is an incentive to get started doing something healthy for yourself," she said.

Ferrante said that the program hours were convenient to those who work full time and that the location - out of the cold weather - could not be beat.

"We're getting a mixed group," he said, handing out the identification badges.

"We're not targeting for just the older populations.

"If you get here at 7 a.m., you'll see some young people."

Most mall walkers will average two to three miles per visit and finish about 100 miles in a month, Ferrante said. Participants were given a map outlining the recommended round trip, starting from Sears and going past Woolworth's, Strawbridge & Clothier and The Bon-Ton. Walkers are trusted to tabulate their progress honestly.

Handing out free apples to the initial participants, Ina Lazowick of U.S. Healthcare said the program was her company's first venture into the mall- walking circuit.

"It's a social event for their health," she said.

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