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Older Asian woman using resistance band

Strength and balance

Our aim is for more people to have the opportunity to maintain and improve muscle strength and balance in later life.

We are working to give more people the opportunity to do more strength and balance activities, which supports them to continue living independently, carry out daily tasks and reduces their risk of falls. 

Strength and balance

As we get older, we are more likely to lose muscle mass and strength, our bones become more brittle and our balance gets worse.  

Low muscle strength is linked to a decline in our ability to carry out daily activities like eating, bathing and getting dressed on our own. Muscle weakness and poor balance are also the two most common modifiable risk factors for falls, which can lead to injury, hip fractures and make us more likely to end up in hospital or need social care.  

The current Chief Medical Officers' guidelines for physical activity recommend that older adults do at least two sessions of muscle strengthening and balance activities per week.  

Yet very few people meet this target, and awareness of these guidelines among commissioners, healthcare professionals and physical activity providers is low. In addition, although some local areas provide strength and balance exercise programmes, these vary in quality and coverage.

A report by the Centre for Ageing Better and the University of Manchester’s Healthy Ageing Research Group, 'Raising the bar on strength and balance', shows a need for sustained, targeted funding for community-based programmes, with affordable, accessible and proven options available for everyone.

We have already had significant impact through:  

  • Our evidence review, which we jointly funded with Public Health England, on the health benefits of strength and balance exercises and the type activities that makes the most difference 

  • Working with local areas across England to commission strength and balance programmes and increase the number of people who are referred onto these programmes