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Older woman doing gardening

New Year, new well-balanced you

With new year resolutions being made around the country, people over 50 are being urged to turn off the TV and take up activities to increase muscle strength and balance.

Few people realise the importance of working on muscle strength and balance, despite the benefits.

The Centre for Ageing Better is recommending regular exercise from tai-chi to gardening which help improve muscle strength and balance and reduce the risk of falling as people get older. From the age of 40, adults lose 8% of their muscle mass per decade.

In the last two years in England, over a quarter of adults over the age of 60 and almost 40% of adults over the age of 80 reported a fall. Falls are responsible for an estimated 95% of all hip fractures, which cost the NHS over £1 billion every year.

However, new statistics show that only just over one in five people (21%) aged between 55 and 64 meet health guidelines on muscle strengthening and aerobic guidelines.

We're recommending the following steps to strengthen muscles and improve balance, based on government advice:

Sit less: Reduce the time you spend watching TV or break up sitting time by taking regular walks.

Build up strength and balance by:

  • carrying heavy shopping
  • take up tai chi, dancing or golf
  • lifting weights
  • heavy gardening such as digging or shovelling
  • push ups or sit ups
  • yoga

Louise Ansari, Director of Communications at the Centre for Ageing Better, says:

“It’s well known that aerobic exercise is very good for you, but not many people realise the importance of working on muscle strength and balance, which starts to decline from as early as our 40s.

“A bit of time each week dedicated to things like dancing or tai chi can help improve your strength and balance and to live independently for longer. And the good news is that everyday tasks such as vigorous gardening and even carrying heavy shopping counts towards meeting your weekly guidelines.”

“They don’t have to cost money and can be done in and around the home.”

Download our infographics on strength and balance.

View guidelines from NHS Choices to explore ways and places to exercise for free.