14 ways to get moving this Mental Health Awareness Week

Published: 9 May 2024
Filed under: Health and wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May, is themed around moving more for our mental health, and helping people find moments for movement in their daily routines. Movement doesn't just help our physical wellbeing: it also supports our mental health. Being active is one of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing

For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult to take part in physical activity regularly. We’ve rounded up some suggestions of what movement is easily available in Waltham Forest, to help you include a little bit more movement in your daily life while having fun! Most sessions are free, with some requiring a small fee.

Movement and activity levels are different from person to person. Whether you’re walking one extra bus stop, moving to your favourite song, trailing behind a toddler or going for a jog, what’s important is that the movement you choose helps make you feel good.

Walking in the wetlands

1. Walking activities for National Walking Month

May is National Walking Month, and there are plenty of activities in Waltham Forest taking place to help you do some movement outdoors. You can find them all on our National Walking Month page!

Walking along a street

2. Waltham Forest Living Streets

Mon 27 May, 12.45pm to 2pm: A free circular group walk from Fellowship Square (Walthamstow) to Lloyd Park and back. Come along for a lunch break walk to get some fresh air and meet some lovely people. This group meets every month on the last Monday. The activity is open to all and there’s no need to book. Email ttcwfhub@gmail.com for more information.

Feel Good Walks

3. Feel Good walks

Each week 18 group walks take place throughout the most beautiful spots in Waltham Forest, led by trained volunteers. You can pick the day, time, place and pace that suits you best. Find all the days and times on the 2024 programme. This activity is free, open to all and there’s no need to book. Email feel.good@walthamforest.gov.uk for more information.

Waltham FOrest Wanders

4. Waltham Forest Wanders

Our much-loved Waltham Forest Wanders self-guided tours have had a revamp, with three new tours added for 2024! These nine routes are themed around the borough's rich, colourful history and culture, from our cinema sites to transport tales, sporting superheroes and artsy areas. The routes can be used for walking, wheeling or running and can be followed on your own, or with family and friends. 


5. parkrun/parkwalk

Waltham Forest hosts Walthamstow parkrun and Leyton Jubilee junior parkrun (for 4 to 14-year-olds), though residents may live closer to the Wanstead Flats, Gunpowder or Hackney Marshes parkruns. parkrun isn't just for runners: walkers or walk/joggers make up many parkrunners, and many parkruns are accessible for people who use wheelchairs or a stick. 

One volunteer, the 'tail walker', will always walk with or behind all parkrunners, so you'll never be the last to finish. parkruns are always free and run by volunteers, and they always welcome people to stay for a cup of tea afterwards. You don't need to sign up before, but it's recommended that you do.

Walk and Talk

6. Walk and Talk

Fridays, 10.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm, Higham Hill Hub (Walthamstow): Walk and Talk For Your Life activities combine group exercise with socialising to make it easier for older adults to become more active. Each in-person session is 90 minutes long, and online Zoom sessions are also available throughout the week. Please get in touch with nick@walkandtalkcic.com to learn more about the cost of the sessions.

Walking Football

7. Age UK activities

Did you know you can play football without running? From walking football and seated yoga to Tai Chi, Pilates, Table Tennis, Zumba, Circuits and walking groups, our partners at Age UK have plenty of activities for anyone aged 50+. This includes the Healthy Heart exercise class for people with a heart condition who want to get back into movement gradually. Activities range from £5 to free and are available throughout the borough. 

Free Swimming

8. Free swimming, anyone?

Our partners Better operate leisure centres in the borough. Through Council support they offer a heavily discounted swimming membership to certain groups, costing only £11.50 per year to get free access to swimming pools in Chingford, Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone. The offer is open to people with a disability and armed forces staff (who can swim for free any time), over-60s (who can swim for free 9am to 4pm weekdays and after 1pm weekends), and under-18s (swim for free during school holidays).

Yoga at Fellowship Square

9. Yoga at Fellowship Square

Thursday 23 May, 7.30pm, Fellowship Square (Walthamstow): Now the evenings are warmer, our friends at East of Eden are bringing yoga back to the beautiful Fellowship Square every full moon. Come along to enjoy the sunset during an hour-long yoga and sound-bath session on the Fellowship Square Fountain’s grounds. Sessions cost £5 and can be booked online

10. Move & Motivate at The Snug

Every Friday during term-time, 3pm, The Snug (Walthamstow): A peer-supported 90-minute exercise group, open to anyone who wants to support their mental health and wellbeing through exercise. No need to sign up, just turn up. The venue and the activities are wheelchair accessible. Email linda.mccairns@crestwf.org.uk for more info.

All Ability Cycling

11. All Ability Cycling Club

Every Saturday, 10am-12pm, alternating between Leyton Jubilee Park and Higham Hill Park (Walthamstow): These free sessions, run in partnership with the Council, welcome people with health conditions, people with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, and carers. Participants can access a range of adapted cycles to show how cycling can be enjoyed by all.

All Ability Cycling Club sessions are a great opportunity to meet other people, and the friendly, experienced team will provide advice on the right fit of cycles and any adaptations. No need to book unless you are bringing a group of 4+. Find more information and get in touch via the Bikeworks website.

Cycle Sisters

12. Cycle Sisters

Every Wednesday (9.15am) and Saturday (9.45am) during term-time, from Lloyd Park (Walthamtsow), Leyton Jubilee Park or Low Hall Depot (Leyton): Cycle Sisters is an award-winning charity which inspires and enables Muslim women to cycle. Its aim is to ensure Muslim women have access to cycling without having to compromise cultural or religious values. Two sessions per week range from beginner to intermediate level, and depart from locations across the borough. Find out more and get in touch on the Cycle Sisters website.

13. Mile Rainbow movement

Every Saturday until 15 June, 10am, Coronation Gardens (Leyton), wellbeing expert Hong Zhou (from Mile Rainbow CIC) runs a free movement class like no other. By the statue of Laurie Cunningham, the class starts with Korean, Japanese and Chinese dance and gentle martial arts moves, before some walking, table tennis/football and a group sharing of health knowledge until 11.30am. Explore, meet people and move. Free booking is via Eventbrite.