Exercises to get started
What are strength exercises?
A strength exercise is any activity that makes your muscles work harder than usual. If repeated regularly, the exercises will increase your muscle strength, size, power and endurance.
You should aim to do 2 sessions or more of muscle-strengthening exercises each week.
Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
- Climbing stairs
- Hill walking
- Racket sports such as tennis and badminton
- Ball games such as football or cricket
- Push-ups, sit-ups and squats (these can be adapted to different abilities)
Starting to be more active can be daunting, especially if you haven't done much exercise before or you're out of practice.
Include exercises in your daily routine
You don't have to set aside time or go to a gym to build muscle strength. Practicing a few of the exercises in the links below whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or brushing your teeth can be a great way to introduce strength-building into your daily routine.
Setting long-term goals can also be effective for keeping yourself motivated – for example, strengthening specific muscle groups so you can lift an object or complete a task more easily.
Preparation is key
Before you start, make sure you are wearing loose comfortable clothing that you can move easily in and comfortable non-slip footwear. Remove any slip or trip hazards, and make sure you have water to hand to stay hydrated.
Exercise with others
Exercising with a friend or as part of a group can be a great way to socialise as well as helping you to keep going for longer. It's also great for your mental health.
Pace yourself and don't ignore pain
Remember to start out gently and slowly increase the level of difficulty. If you feel any discomfort, stop and take a break.
If you are unsteady on your feet, you can do some exercises sitting in a tall upright position in a straight-backed dining chair. The chair should be placed against something sturdy to prevent it from moving.
If you have an existing health issue which may affect your ability to exercise, please speak to your GP or a health professional before starting any of the exercises below.
Explore the videos and other resources below to start your journey towards a stronger, healthier you.
Exercises from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
This video offers 6 simple exercises you can do at home to start building muscle strength.
The Chartered Society for Physiotherapy also offers a strength exercise hub, including exercise videos for the upper body, lower body and whole body.
SASP Take Time exercise videos
The SASP Take Time videos encourage people to move at a pace that works for them.
Videos are 10, 15 or 20 minutes long, and include exercises targeting specific issues such as shoulder and neck pain and lower back pain, as well as strength-building exercises.
NHS strength & flexibility resources
This informative resource from the NHS outlines how to get started with exercises to improve strength and flexibility.
The NHS has also provided a selection of videos showing a range of simple exercises you can do at home or outdoors to improve your strength and flexibility.
Move more with bands: Seated exercises
If seated exercises are easier for you, this resource provides a great introduction to low impact resistance exercise that allows you to work at your own pace, as well as offering ways to make the exercise easier or more difficult.
Exercises for women
This workout guide for over 50s from Women's Health offers a choice of 14 workouts, including Joe Wicks' workouts for seniors. Workouts range from 10 to 40 minutes, covering low impact cardio, yoga and pilates.
During and after the menopause, you may notice changes to your pelvic function which could affect confidence around lifting weights, exercising with resistance and high impact movement.
This PDF information leaflet from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust includes a detailed how-to guide for pelvic floor exercises, to enable you to feel comfortable and reassured when strength training. The leaflet also provides guidance on when to seek support from a healthcare professional.
Exercises for men
This comprehensive strength training guide for the over 50s from Men's Health offers several exercise plans tailored to different levels of experience and fitness.
Carrying extra weight, being new to exercise, diabetes and other similar medical conditions affecting the nerves as well as prostate surgery can all impact on men's pelvic function and bladder control as you get older.
This PDF information leaflet from Somerset NHS Foundation Trust provides advice and guidance around spotting the signs of dysfunction and how to improve symptoms with simple exercises at home. With a stronger pelvic floor, you will be better equipped to handle additional pressure from strength training, resistance exercise and high impact movement.