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Anna and Chris from our Befriending service share their tips on how older people can stay active and connect with others this Mental Health Awareness Week. There are lots of tips that people of all ages can benefit from!  

Being active can be daunting for many, especially for those experiencing mental health difficulties, loneliness and isolation, as well as physical and mobility issues. We are aware that everyone is at different stages in their mental health journey, and what may be a simple task for some could seem impossible to others.  

The support we provide through our Befriending service is tailored to support the individual, ensuring practical and rewarding goals are pursued throughout the befriending partnerships. Even what seems like the smallest amount of progress is something to celebrate! 

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With this in mind, and in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, we are here to suggest a couple of ways to stay active and connect with others, whether this is from the comfort of your own home, or in some of Leeds’ beautiful green spaces. 

Research from the NHS suggests that as we get older, our activity levels may reduce, and most of our day may be spent inactive. This gradual reduction is significant when we consider the relationship between exercise and mental health. Did you know that: 

  • Regular exercise acts as a mood enhancer, improving mood in 70% of people with depression. 
  • Regular exercise can reduce the risk of dementia by around 30%. 
  • A 20-minute bout of exercise can improve one’s mood for up to 12 hours according to researchers.  

While not the only factor affecting our mental wellbeing, less activity could impact people’s mental health in a substantial way. 


At Home 

While there’s plenty to do outside of the home, these options may not always be accessible to everyone. There are plenty of things you can do around the home to increase activity, such as: 

Chair Exercises 

Chair exercises are a great way to increase your activity if it can be difficult to be on your feet for prolonged periods of time. You can stretch and build muscle while in your chair. 

There are some great resources available:

Stretching and Yoga 

Yoga and stretching is beneficial for people of all ages. It is a great way to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and mobility as well as boosting your wellbeing through mindfulness.

You can find some useful resources here:


Gardening is a therapeutic activity that, perhaps without you knowing it, involves a lot of movement. Trimming the hedges, mowing the lawn, or planting flowers are all activities that keep you moving.  


Like gardening, general housework is a good way to keep active. Dusting the shelves, hanging out the washing and meal preparation are all ways to keep you on your feet and maintain or improve flexibility. It is recommended to not stay still for more than 30 minutes at a time. Where possible, a good way to stay active is to keep to that rule. Walk around the house, change which room you are in, make a cup of tea. This can help with joint pain and build your muscles. 


In the Community 

Leeds is home to some of the most beautiful and accessible green spaces, many of which are unknown or unexplored by the majority of residents. In the spirit of Befriending, we’d like to encourage you to invite a friend, colleague or family member to explore a park in your area. We have included a map below for ease, so you can find the closest park to you, and below that an alphabetical list with links to more information on each trail/green space. 

  1. Bramley Fall Park 
  2. Churwell Urban Woodlands 
  3. East End Park 
  4. Farnley Beck Walk 
  5. Gledhow Valley Woods 
  6. Golden Acre Park 
  7. Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve 
  8. Meanwood Valley Trail 
  9. Middleton Park 
  10. Primrose Valley Park 
  11. Rodley Nature Reserve 
  12. Rothwell Country Park 
  13. Roundhay Park 
  14. Temple Newsam 



Walking Groups 

For those who are feeling isolated or would benefit from joining an existing group, we have listed some popular walking groups below. 


We hope you find some inspiration on ways to get moving in Leeds this #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek! 


A big thank you to Anna and Chris for sharing their top tips.  

Leeds Mind Befriending is a social support service for over 50s in Leeds who are experiencing mental ill health, loneliness, and isolation. Learn more about the Befriending service on our webpage