Movement Foundation

Resistance activity

Resistance activity

Using big muscles will lead to an improvement in insulin resistance and metabolic health.

Movement and challenge of the body's big muscles provides multiple benefits. This includes providing a space for excess glucose in the blood to go. In addition, muscles release anti-inflammatory chemicals which is good for the metabolic health.

Challenging the muscles in the arms, legs, and buttocks once or twice a week will encourage the muscles to grow, this is known as hypertrophy. The challenge needs to be more than that of everyday life. However, it does not need to be seen as a chore. Just a few minutes of intensive muscle fatiguing resistance activity will have a benefit.

There are many ways to build resistance activity into your life. This can include heavy gardening or housework, carrying heavy shopping, doing a sport or going to the gym, or simply doing some body weight exercises.

Body weight resistance activity is easy to do and needs no equipment. A set of 10 slow leg squats, whilst holding the back of a chair or countertop if needed, is a very effective exercise. Similarly, press-ups are a simple exercise for the arms. These can be made easier by doing them standing whilst pressing against a wall.

The key to getting maximum benefit from resistance exercise is to try to completely fatigue the muscles within about 20-60 seconds. Completely fatiguing muscles means you are not keen, or not able, to do more without a rest. Doing 3 sets of a resistance activity with a very short break, perhaps 15 seconds, between each set is a commonly used effective routine.

To improve health consider

  • Undertake some challenging leg and arm resistance activity, for at least a few minutes, once or twice a week.
  • Squats are a simple and quick resistance activity for the legs and buttocks.
  • Press-ups are a simple and quick resistance activity for the arms and shoulders.


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