It’s good to walk

Exercise classes for the over-50s can help reduce depression and loneliness
Exercise classes for the over-50s can help reduce depression and loneliness

Walthamstow health course reduces loneliness, writes Nick Bender

It may or may not surprise you, but walking and exercise is a well-established treatment for depression. Some studies even show regular physical activity to be more effective than anti-depressant medications.

Given the similarities loneliness shares with depression, researchers at Middlesex University in London set out to discover whether a group exercise and socialising course could reduce loneliness in older adults. The study, entitled ‘Walk and Talk for Your Life’, recruited 48 participants from Waltham Forest and found that, after ten weeks, participants’ loneliness scores fell by 22% compared to a control group.

Four months after the initial study, participants continue to meet and walk together informally, having built friendships within the group. Walthamstow resident Wayne said: “The course was an exceptionally positive experience, from learning exercises to interacting with other members on our walks and group discussions. This course has inspired me to take more control of my health as I move into my 60s.”

Walk and Talk for Your Life continues to run courses for older adults (typically for over 50s) at Priory Court Community Centre. Sessions begin with flexibility, balance and tailored strength exercises, followed by a 30-minute walk to Lloyd Park. The final part is a 45-minute discussion on a health topic over tea and coffee, with topics ranging from holistic themes such as becoming connected in a disconnected world and finding purpose in retirement, to the latest research into nutrition for older adults, how to exercise, and tips on improving sleep and reducing stress.

The next ten-week course will begin on Tuesday 7th January on Tuesdays and Fridays, 1pm-3pm. Many participants have at least one health issue but as long as you are able to walk at a slow to moderate pace and are recommended by your GP to exercise, we’d love to have you join. Classes are £2 per session, but fees can be waived if needed.

Lastly, if you are a health professional and would like to host a course in your area, we’d love to chat with you! We provide free resources and training, and can help apply for funding to subsidise the costs of hiring a space.

Walk and Talk for Your Life has been supported by William Morris Big Local, the Walk and Cycle Fund and AgeUK Waltham Forest.

For more information:
Call 07562 475 706