BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Southern Park Mall is partnering with Bios Wellness Urgent Care to reinvent the traditional mall walker experience.

Years ago, the CDC listed malls as the second most popular place to walk, just behind neighborhoods.

People have been walking around the Southern Park Mall for years, many for shopping, some for exercise. Larry Bundy is one of those mall walkers. He does it six times a week.

“I enjoy coming out here. I’ve met a lot of people and this is a nice, warm atmosphere to walk,” he said.

Mall walkers can now follow Fitness Loop. It gives guests a new way to enjoy physical activity in a climate-controlled environment complete with mile markers and specified pathways.

It begins at the DeBartolo Commons entrance, and the indoor portion winds around the mall. You’ll see green distance markers on the floor telling you how far you’ve gone.

“Taking part in regular physical activity, including brisk walking, can generate such great health benefits,” said Brian Gabbert, general manager at the Southern Park Mall. “We’re thrilled to partner with Bios Wellness Urgent Care to offer Southern Park Mall as a pedestrian-friendly area for guests, and to get their steps in while enjoying some new twists on a traditional fitness activity.”

“In a perfect world, I hope it grows. I mean, being able to see that, you know, that’s a mile here, a quarter mile there. You walk this distance last time, push yourself to get to the next distance,” said MiQuita Hosey, medical director of Bios Wellness Urgent Care.

The Fitness Loop is mainly indoors, and in good weather, you can walk outdoors around the Borough Commons. The total distance is just over a mile.

“The simple act of walking has many powerful benefits,” Hosey said. “Partnering with the mall for Fitness Loop falls in line with our mission for a healthier Youngstown.”

The mall opens an hour early for mall walkers. Fitness Loop will be available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s just a way that we can kind of reach out to our community and say, ‘Hey, we care about your physical fitness and your well-being. Come on in and take a walk around the mall,” Gabbert said.

Bios was looking for a way to connect the community to health care outside of a traditional health care setting, so it will offer free health screenings each month at the mall. Guests will be able to receive free blood pressure screenings, heart rate checks and the opportunity to chat with a medical professional to improve their lifestyle or answer any questions.

“Really helps to see where their progress is, where they started, or if there’s something abnormal and they can’t get into their doctor’s, you know, you can get your vital signs in-between doctor’s appointments,” Hosey said.

“Well, that’s good for our senior citizens to keep active and to keep healthy and to have our vitals monitored. So I’m looking forward to it,” Bundy said.

Most of the Fitness Loop markings have already been installed.

Southern Park and Bios Wellness Urgent Care will host a ribbon-cutting on Saturday, May 7 followed by free health screenings.