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JFSF Vol 3, No 2, June 2018, p.58-65

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-03-058


Review Article

What types of physical activities are effective in developing muscle and bone strength and balance?

Charlie Foster, Miranda E.G. Armstrong

  • Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Keywords: Strength, Balance, Exercise, Bone, Physical Activity


The need to be fit, strong, fast and agile has been an evolutionary requirement since early history. In this paper we identify the effectiveness of different types of physical activity on muscle, bone and balance outcomes, and what types of physical activity contribute to the development and maintenance of these outcomes. We undertook a purposive search of PubMed, international evidence reviews of physical activity, and asked international experts to identify review level relevant literature on the effectiveness of muscle, bone and balance training and physical activity on health outcomes. We found consistent review level evidence that strength/resistance training as a single intervention or in combination with other activities, two/three occasions per week, were effective for muscular strength, with higher intensities of training producing greater gains. We found consistent review level evidence that strength training as a single intervention or in combination with high impact loading activities taken at least 3 times per week were effective for bone health. Physical activities with a high challenge to balance done in standing three times per week were beneficial for balance training and falls reduction. The current UK 2011 Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity guidelines remain consistent with the most up to date review level evidence for muscle and balance health.