Early-morning walkers head to the Dover Mall between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The gates to the store entrances are pulled down. The lights are dimmed. There is no hustle and bustle to deal with. And, perhaps most importantly, it is nice and warm inside.

Those are just some of the reasons early-morning walkers head to the Dover Mall between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

“We do it to stay in good health,” said Marie Lavendar who heads to mall with her husband, Sherman, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.

“It’s warmer than being outside and it’s safe,” she said. “You’ve got to keep moving.”

Sherman Lavender said he and his wife have this mall-walking thing down to a science. They have a path they follow that takes them through every nook and cranny.

“I’ve been walking for 10 to 12 years here and she started walking with me after she retired,” he said. “We walk three times around the mall, which takes about a half hour to 35 minutes. If you walk all through the mall, three times around, it’s about 2.2 miles.

Annie Tunstill said she recently started walking there.

“Walking in the mall is convenient and it’s nice and warm,” she said. “This is my second week doing it. I figured I needed to do it because summer’s coming. I’ve got to get rid of those holiday calories.”

The calories a walker burns is a factor of the walker’s weight and the distance they walk. A 160-pound person can usually burn off 100 calories per mile.

Tunstill said walking in the mall, where security officers are on duty, also less risky than taking to the streets.

“It’s nice and convenient – and it’s safe,” she said. “That’s important.”