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By Salford University | 03 April 2024 | TAGS: Strength Training, Mental health, Active Workplaces

A University of Salford researcher is on a mission to get more people over the age of 40 to take up strength training to help people to age more healthily.

Ashley Gluchowski, a University Fellow at the University of Salford and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist, has partnered with Greater Manchester Moving to raise awareness of the benefits of participating in strength training.

Research conducted by Ashley alongside Greater Manchester Moving investigated the barriers to strength training and how to support people aged 40 to 60 years old in the city region to move more.

The findings have led Ashley to publish a list of 11 guidelines (see below) to support leisure providers, workplaces, and the health sector when promoting strength-based activities.

Now, they’re encouraging everyone to raise awareness of the benefits of strength training by sharing their strength training stories on social media with the hashtag #StrongEnough on Thursday 4 April.

In addition to increased muscle, bone, and joint health, the benefits of strength training include improved mental health, concentration, energy, sleep, endurance, and reduced effort required to carry out the activities of daily living.

In the long-term, strength training can help to reduce the risk of numerous health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney and liver disease, sarcopenia and frailty.

Strength training can also have a huge impact decelerating cognitive decline. People with low muscle strength can have a 72% higher risk of dementia compared to those with high muscle strength.

It can reduce depressive symptoms by over 50%, giving similar results to antidepressant medication with none of the medication side effects.

After Strength-Training Awareness Day (4 April), Ashley is hoping to work with local businesses in Greater Manchester with the aim of incorporating strength training opportunities into the workplace.

Ashley said:

“As our population ages, we tend to become less active, making our current health model no longer sustainable. We are keeping people alive for longer, but those years are being spent in poor health. My heart is in prevention, and one of the biggest returns on investment is strength training.

“When we consider that musculoskeletal conditions, mental health, and obesity are drivers of workplace absenteeism, costing the UK economy £150 billion in 2023, we can reduce the risk or treat each of these things effectively with strength training.

“Just two, 30-minute sessions of strength training per week is likely to reduce your chances of developing chronic disease.”

Claire Marshall, Strategic Lead for Active Adults at GM Moving, said:

“We need to work across the city region to ensure everyone has the opportunity to take part in both strength-based and aerobic exercise, so we can all enjoy the numerous physical and mental health benefits they bring.”

“We know it is never too late to start, and doing anything is better than nothing. We want to use these new guidelines to support everyone by showing you don’t need loads of specialist equipment, it can be as easy as using your body weight and doing exercises in your living room at home.”

You're invited to get involved:

  • For more information on strength training, visit Ashley's Stronger At Home website.
  • To learn more about what your workplace can do to support employees feel healthier, contact Claire Marshall.
  • See below for Ashley’s 11 guidelines for strength training messaging campaigns, if you'd like to discuss how to implement them in your marketing, contact GM Moving.
  • Access our new strength-training image via our Resource Hub - search 'strength'.

Guidelines for strength training messaging campaigns

  1. Use images of real people being active and strong in a variety of ways. Focus on diversity of body types, ethnicities, and ages. Avoid stick people or cartoon icons.
  2. Quotes and success stories are an excellent use of text.
  3. Peers are the preferred source of information and inspiration. Capitalise by asking more people to share their stories and experiences.
  4. It’s not enough to tell people to do strength training (even when including frequency, muscle groups, or intensity). People need more details to know how to practically participate in strength training. People who don’t know how or who don’t feel confident they know enough, simply won’t start.
  5. People think strength training is only for appearance or performance. Including other benefits may be key to moving more people along to the next stage of behaviour change (from contemplation to preparation or from action to maintenance).
  6. Both short-term benefits (like, blood glucose regulation) and long-term risk reduction (for instance, of dementia) are effective and should be used simultaneously.
  7. People self-reporting to be participating in strength training are admittedly ‘going through the motions’ or are quite inconsistent in their approach (as a direct result of not seeing any tangible benefits from their initial efforts). These people are further encouraged with information about the importance of progressive overload for continued benefits and lasting results.
  8. Messages should be clear and consistent across messengers (to avoid confusion and frustration) but also need to be seen across several channels and settings. Employers and workplaces are believed to play a major role in promoting and encouraging strength-based exercise.
  9. Effective messages are quickly and easily linked to more information and opportunities. QR codes should link to a mobile app or dedicated web page.
  10. Inclusive messages include information and opportunities for all abilities, beginner to advanced.
  11. Information coming from recognisable, credible sources are more effective (professional exercise bodies, relevant charities, and universities).

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