Let's Get Moving
With it still often cold and wet outside, it’s tempting to stay indoors and neglect exercising. We know that during lockdown it became harder for certain groups, including older people, to stay active. However, it’s incredibly important that we all remain active as it’s key to maintaining our health, independence and functionality.
The health benefits of regular physical activity are well established – people who are active are at lower risk of developing certain cancers, heart disease, dementia, stroke, type 2 diabetes and depression.
There’s also strong evidence to suggest that regular exercise reduces the risk of falling in older people. Keeping muscles stronger means keeping up with day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on other people.
This is why the NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity – physical activity that raises our heart rate, makes us breathe faster and warms us up – every week. As well as 150 minutes per week of cardiovascular activity, strengthening and balancing activities at least twice a week are also encouraged.
Taking care of our mental health is just as vital as physical health. According to figures from Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone. Getting active and participating in community activities can be a great way of forming connections with others, combatting loneliness and preserving our mental health.
In Lewisham, we’re incredibly lucky that our borough has a wide range of activities for residents to maintain fitness and combat loneliness:
Lewisham Healthy Walks
These free, friendly walk groups allow you to enjoy the beautiful parks in our borough and are led by trained volunteer leaders, taking place each week. They are wonderful opportunities to enjoy nature and make new friends. The walks are currently socially distanced and participants are encouraged to bring face masks and hand sanitiser. Register as a walker on the website here.
Parks and Green Spaces in Lewisham
We’re fortunate in a borough like Lewisham to have many green spaces that most people can access. If you would prefer to walk by yourself rather than in an organised group, see here for more information on local parks.
Be Active Scheme
Our leisure centres are open again and the over-60s, as well as students and those on certain benefits, can take advantage of the Council’s discount scheme on a range of fitness and leisure activities. There are free swimming sessions for over 60s at any of the pools in our borough as well as free gym sessions at the following leisure centres:
- Glass Mill Leisure Centre
- Forest Hill Pools
- Wavelengths Leisure Centre
- Bellingham Leisure And Lifestyle Centre
- Downham Health & Leisure Centre
Find out how to register for the scheme here.
Lewisham Indoor Bowls Club
Bowls anyone? Lewisham Indoor Bowls Centre offers a great way to keep active and social. This purpose built facility serves as home to the Lewisham and Crystal Palace Indoor Bowls Partnership who offer both social, and competitive bowls options. The indoor bowls season started in October and will run through to March. The membership price for Lewisham residents is £125 per season (this equates to £20 per month) which allows access to sessions 7 days a week. For more information, please email Lcpibp21@gmail.com.
South East London Tennis offer affordable, quality tennis coaching to people of all ages and abilities. Their Social Sessions are perfect for people aged 50+ that are interested in getting back into Tennis. The sessions take place at Ladywell Fields tennis courts every Friday from 10 - 11.15am and cost £8.50 for PlayTennis Lewisham members and £10 for non-members. The sessions finish with the offer of a in the Good Hope Café. For more information can be found here.
This can be a relaxing activity that improves balance, agility and flexibility. It’s a low impact activity that puts minimal stress on joints and muscles. There are numerous positive mental health benefits of Tai Chi too, helping with stress, anxiety and depression. See here here information on sessions in Lewisham for just £4.You can also book online sessions with JJ Tai Chi here.
Rivoli Ballroom Dancing
Why not try dancing? On the first Saturday of each month, you can attend a night of ballroom, latin, salsa dancing at the beautiful Rivoli venue, one of the last remaining 1950s style ballrooms left in London. The venue has served as location for the filming of Strictly Come Dancing and films like The Muppets and The Avengers so it’s a truly special place to enjoy a night out. Doors open at 7.30pm and tickets can only be purchased on the door for £10. See here for more details.
Try Before You Buy Bike
This is the Lewisham Council Cycle Loan Scheme which is available to anyone who lives, works or studies in Lewisham. You can try a new (or nearly new) bike for a monthly fee and if you like the bike, you can buy it later at a discounted bike or pay monthly until you own it. The monthly fee begins at £20 a month for adults and £10 a month for children. Maintenance insurance and theft cover are also available. Check out this page for more information.
Singing with a group can be a really fun way to stay engaged with the community – and the dancing that goes along with it can be great physical activity. Most choirs will accept all ages and abilities, requiring no auditions. See here for a list of choirs in Lewisham.
There are parkruns – free, fun and friendly 5k community runs – that take place in Beckenham Place Park, Catford and Hilly Fields, every Saturday at 9am. You can walk, jog or run at the pace that best suits you! Make sure to register the first time you go. There are often socials after the events like post-run coffees that you can also attend.
Adult Learning Lewisham
There are a fantastic range of courses at Adult Learning Lewisham. The fee per hour for studio classes is £7.50 but there are concessions of 50% on some courses for those over 65 or if you are unemployed and receiving certain benefits. There are a range of online and face-to-face courses including cooking, pottery, languages and music. It’s never too late to cultivate new skills. Find a list of the courses on offer for 2021/22 here.
Libraries and online information
Visit our libraries to borrow books, DVDs and CDs. With your library card you can also borrow from our eLibrary which includes eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines and newspapers. Libraries also offer study space, free PC access, free WiFi and photocopiers.
https://weareundefeatable.co.uk/ – support for those with a long term health condition to get active.
https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/50-resource-ordering/resources/5118 – ‘Active at Home’ booklet, a practical guide for older adults on home-based activities to maintain strength and balance.
So there is plenty on offer in Lewisham to improve our health and wellbeing over the coming months. All movement counts so let’s sit less, move more and fit a range of activities into our daily lives.