Wesley Glen Retirement Community’s Mall Walkers group brings fitness and fun for participants during their monthly meetings – many of them in Worthington’s backyard.

Africa Thomas, director of community outreach for Wesley Communities at 5155 N. High St. in Columbus, not far south of Worthington, said she started the group about four years ago.

Most of the walks are at the Shops at Worthington Place, 7227 N. High St.

“We started it as an extension of the wellness activities going on through Wesley Glen,” she said. “We partnered with the Shops at Worthington Place. They’ve been a great partner. ... Our goal was to sign up 20 people initially, and now we have well over 200 and about 45 to 50 that are active on a regular basis.”

Thomas said the group meets once a month and tries to add programs its members want, including a health presentation, a mile-long walk around the mall and lunch.

She said the group is primarily for ages 50 and over, but anyone is welcome to sign up and join. Members do not have to be associated with Wesley Glen to participate, and the meetings are free to attend.

Thomas said the group meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the last Tuesday of every month.

“The programs are designed specifically for ... older adults,” said Jim Rundle, a Colonial Hills neighborhood resident and four-year member of Mall Walkers. “They’re geared to things that are doable and learnable.”

Nancy Pfefferle, a northwest Columbus resident and four-year Mall Walkers member, said the programming focuses on more than just fitness – it covers the mind, body and spirit as a whole.

Pfefferle said the group typically walks around the Worthington mall at least three times, which is equivalent to a mile.

Thomas said the group is given about 30 minutes to walk around the mall before moving on to the other programming.

She said 90% of the meetings are at the Shops at Worthington Place, but the group sometimes walks at a trail outside Wesley Glen.

“On a normal basis, I think they walk together and make friends with one another, and that’s the most successful part of the program,” Thomas said.

Rundle, who walks at the mall regularly at 7 a.m., said the meetings are a nice way to interact with others who might never meet otherwise.

“Some of the people we see at the walkers meetings, I don’t see any other time because they’re walking at different times in the mall,” he said.

“You find people that go at your pace, and you talk and look at the windows of different stores,” Pfefferle said. “It’s just a lot of fun.”

For more information about the Mall Walkers or to join the group, call Thomas at 614-738-8099.