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JFSF Vol 3, No 2, June 2018, p.66-73

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-03-066


Review Article

What are the health benefits of muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities across life stages and specific health outcomes?

Melvyn Hillsdon1, Charlie Foster2

  1. University of Exeter, Sport & Health Sciences, Exeter, UK
  2. University of Bristol, Exercise Nutrition and Health Sciences, Social Science Complex, Bristol, UK

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


Many activities of daily living require muscular strength and power as well as balance. Consequently, preserving musculoskeletal function is a prerequisite for maintaining mobility and independent living during ageing. Estimates suggest that the prevalence of physical activity guidelines for strength and balance is low. Review of reviews of: a) observation studies of the prospective association between measures of musculoskeletal fitness and health outcomes and b) randomised controlled trials of resistance, balance and skeletal impact training exercises on bone health, risk of falls, physical function, motor and cognitive function, quality of life and activities of daily living. Preserving muscular strength/power in middle and older age is associated with a reduced risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Impaired muscular strength/power and balance is associated with an increased risk of falls and lower bone mineral content. Regular supervised exercise incorporating high intensity resistance training, vertical impacts and a balance challenge are most likely to be beneficial to health and wellbeing, bone health and reduce the risks of falls. Adults in late middle and older age would benefit from a regular program of exercise that incorporates high intensity resistance training, impact exercises and balance challenges.