Strength and balance in later life

Jess Kuehne looks forward to working with CSP and Sport England to help the physiotherapy workforce promote the benefits of strength exercise

Jess Kuehne is senior programme manager (healthy ageing) at the Centre for Ageing Better

What’s one of the things you fear most about growing older? Developing a disability? Not being able to get out and about anymore? Needing help around the home? Not being able to wash or dress yourself? Falling and breaking a hip? 

We know that loss of muscle strength as we age is closely linked to all of the above. The good news is that losing your strength – and the functional ability that comes with it – as you age isn’t inevitable. Undertaking exercises to strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your balance are very effective for reducing your risk of developing some of these health problems. They can also help you maintain your ability to do everyday tasks like eating, bathing or using the stairs, even if your health worsens or you develop a disability. 

The bad news is that currently, few people are doing enough of this kind of exercise – so it is really exciting to see the CSP undertaking a new project to find the best ways to promote the benefits of maintaining and improving muscle strength to people visiting their physiotherapist.

Even though we know how important strength and balance are, we also know that very few people meet the official guidelines for activities that can improve them.

There are a number of barriers that stop people from participating in these sorts of exercises. These include things like being in poor health, fear of experiencing pain or discomfort, feeling socially awkward, lacking confidence or support, or needing professional instruction. 
Physiotherapists have an important role to play in supporting people with health conditions to take up more strengthening activities and overcoming many of the barriers. 

Now we’re really looking forward to working with CSP and Sport England to take this forward. 

  • Jess Kuehne is senior programme manager (healthy ageing) at the Centre for Ageing Better 

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