The Importance of Maintaining Your Strength – Article 14

You really should do muscle strengthening exercises to maintain your strength, especially as you get older. They should be an important part of your physical activity, along with your aerobic activity of walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

Strength Exercises

They can be done in a variety of ways. Some of you will think of weight training with machines in a gym. Others will think of free weights such as dumbbells or simply do exercises using your own body weight.

I’ve done most forms of strength training over the years, but my favourite is simple strength exercise using my body weight. There are many reasons why. I can do them anywhere and I nearly always do them outdoors. I don’t need any special equipment and they support my daily life which at my age, is what I need more than anything else!

Your goal should be to include 2 strength sessions into your weekly exercise schedule. Start with 2 x 15 minute sessions a week, progressing slowly and gradually to 2 x 30 minute sessions. Eventually, you may get to 2 x 45 minute sessions but most of us will not need to go beyond that.

Do Not Neglect Your Strength!

It’s very easy to neglect your strength and I know many people do. When walkers get injured, more often than not, it’s caused by the repetitive use of the same muscles with the corresponding relative neglect of their other muscles.

Strengthening muscles which stabilise your hips and knees in particular, is very important for injury prevention. Making weak muscles stronger will reduce imbalances which exist between opposing muscle groups. Instead of adding a fourth or fifth walk to your weekly routine, you’ll nearly always be better off to do some functional strength exercises instead.

This is probably counterintuitive, which explains why so few do it However, perhaps the most interesting thing is that by adding strength exercises to your routine, your walking will also improve.

Avoid Sarcopenia

One of the main reasons you have to do these functional strength exercises is because of the loss of muscle mass as you age, known as sarcopenia. This starts at about age 30 and continues at a rate of between 0.5% to 1% a year. This rate accelerates in your late 50’s  and early 60’s, unless you take action to avoid it.

The picture below shows the huge difference between the muscle mass of the thigh of an average 21 year-old compared to a 63 year-old. This change in muscle mass is what typically happens, but it doesn’t have to be like this! If you exercise regularly and include 2 strength sessions/week, you can significantly postpone this process.

Your Metabolism

Strength exercises will also boost your metabolism, which means you will burn energy more efficiently, which in turn will help you control or lose weight. In addition, as you increase your muscle mass and slow down sarcopenia you actually burn more calories; each additional pound of muscle burns calories approximately 3 times faster than fat. It may not be hugely significant, but it all helps in the fight against illness and ageing.

Your Comments

Your comments and questions are very important to us. If you have any questions about the 30 Day Moving Challenge, in particular, let us know as we plan to discuss these in our next podcast.


  1. Thank you this information is brilliant I wasn’t aware strength exercise was so important . i am certainly going to act on it from today .

    • Hi Clair, strength maintenance will be something we’ll talk more about during the 100 Day LEAP Summer Challenge!

  2. I think this something I will definitely have to build into my exercise routine. I love working outdoors in the garden and don’t mind doing strenuous jobs but this may not be regular enough to have an effect. Is there a list of possible muscle strengthening exercise that you could let me have.

  3. Thanks for that… I don’t really understand what you mean by “strength exercise using my body weight “. Will you please send me an information sheet about what these are … Regards. Anne


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