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JFSF Vol 3, No 2, June 2018, p.74-84

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-03-074


Review Article

How do muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities (MBSBA) vary across the life course, and are there particular ages where MBSBA are most important?

Dawn A. Skelton, Alexandra Mavroeidi

  • School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Keywords: Strength, Balance, Exercise, Lifecycle, Transition period


This narrative review focuses on the role of strength and balance activities throughout the lifecycle to improve physical capacity and reduce all-cause mortality. The evidence suggests strong associations in middle and older age, with poor balance, poor strength or poor physical function having strong associations with mortality. Currently in the UK, the proportions of adults (69% of men and 76% of women) not meeting the strength and balance guidelines (of 2 or more sessions/week) is concerning. This report identifies specific time points in the lifecycle where specific promotion of and engagement with strength and balance activities would be most beneficial for health: 18-24y to maximize bone and muscle mass gains, 40-50y to maintain strength and reduce that downward cycle, and over 65s to preserve balance and strength and maintain independence). This review also suggests specific transition points/events in life where there may be an increase in sedentary behaviour or loss of muscle function (pregnancy, menopause, onset of on diagnosis of disease, retirement, on becoming a carer and following hospitalization), where it would be useful to initiate additional strength and balance exercises to improve future health outcomes.