- How much exercise?
- Benefits of exercise
- Physical activity guidelines: children (under 5s)
- Physical activity guidelines: children and young people
- Physical activity guidelines: adults
- Why we should sit less
- Physical activity guidelines: older adults
- Exercise as you get older
- Couch to 5K
- Couch to 5K: week by week
- How to stretch after a run
- Get running with Couch to 5K
- Life after Couch to 5K
- Running podcasts for C25K graduates
- Knee exercises for runners
- Knee pain and other running injuries
- Exercise tips
- Get active with a disability
- Fitness advice for wheelchair users
- Common exercise mistakes
- Why do I feel pain after exercise?
- Exercises for sciatica
- Exercises for sciatica problems
- Common posture mistakes and fixes
- Fitness guides
- Get active your way
- Get fit for free
- How to warm up before exercising
- How to stretch after exercising
- A guide to pilates
- A guide to tai chi
- A guide to yoga
- Running for beginners
- Swimming for fitness
- Dance for fitness
- Walking for health
- 10-minute workouts
- 10-minute abs workout
- 10-minute upper arms workout
- 10-minute firm butt workout
- 10-minute home cardio workout
- 10-minute home toning workout
- 10-minute legs, bums and tums home workout
- 5-minute wake-up workout
- Do I need to stretch before exercising?
- Exercises for strong bones
- 12-week fitness plan
- Balance exercises
- Flexibility exercises
- Gym-free exercises
- Gym-free workouts
- Easy exercises
- Sitting exercises
- Strength exercises
- Get fit with Strength and Flex
- Strength and Flex exercise plan
- Strength and Flex exercise plan: week by week
- Strength and Flex exercise plan: how-to videos
- How to improve your strength and flexibility
How to improve your strength and flexibility
Strength and flexibility exercises will help you increase muscle strength, maintain bone density, improve balance and reduce joint pain.
What are strength exercises?
A strength exercise is any activity that makes your muscles work harder than usual.
This increases your muscles' strength, size, power and endurance.
The activities involve using your body weight or working against a resistance.
Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:
What exercises are good for preventing falls?
Exercises that improve leg strength, balance and co-ordination can help people maintain and improve their muscle strength and avoid falls as they get older.
Examples of leg-strengthening exercises include:
- tai chi
- walking up stairs
- lifting weights
How can I tell if I'm doing enough?
For an activity to be muscle strengthening, it needs to work your muscles to the point where you may need a short rest before continuing.
For example, if you're lifting weights, you'd have to put the weight down after doing a number of lifts before carrying on.
What are flexibility exercises?
Flexibility exercises are activities that improve the ability of a joint to maintain the movement necessary for carrying out daily tasks and physical activity.
Examples of flexibility activities include:
What are the benefits of strength and flexibility activities?
Muscle-strengthening activities help maintain the ability to perform everyday tasks and slow down the rate of bone and muscle loss associated with ageing.
Such exercises can also help reduce your chances of falling.
Health professionals believe that improving your flexibility can improve your posture, reduce aches and pains, and lower your risk of injury.
Good flexibility can also help you to continue carrying out everyday tasks.
How often should I do strength and flexibility exercises?
It's a good idea to do muscle-strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on 2 or more days a week.
No specific amount of time is recommended, but a typical training session could take less than 20 minutes.
Exercises should be performed to the point at which it would be difficult to do another repetition without help.
A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing 1 push-up or 1 sit-up.
Try to do 8 to 12 repetitions for each activity, which counts as 1 set.
Try to do at least 2 sets of muscle-strengthening activities, but to gain even more benefits, do 3 sets.
Remember to start gradually and build up over a period of weeks.
There are no specific recommendations for how much time you should spend on flexibility exercises.
Do strength exercises count towards my 150 minutes?
No, time spent doing strength exercises does not count towards moderate aerobic activities.
Aerobic activities like walking or cycling do count towards your 150-minute weekly target.
But don't some aerobic exercises include an element of strength?
Yes, some aerobic exercises, if performed at a vigorous intensity, will also strengthen your muscles.
- circuit training
- martial arts
For general health, try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on 2 days a week.
But if you're doing vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, you should be able to get all your week's aerobic and muscle-strengthening requirements from 75 minutes of activity.