This cross-sectional study was designed to examine the effects of healthy ageing on muscle strength, power, and potentially related functional ability. Subjects were recruited through local and national newspapers and inclusion was based on strict health criteria, by questionnaire. Isometric knee extensor, isometric elbow flexor and handgrip strength, leg extensor power, timed rise from a low chair, lifting a weighted bag on to a surface, and stepping unaided on to boxes of different heights were measured in 50 men and 50 women, evenly distributed over the age range 65–89 years. The differences in isometric strength and leg extensor power over the age range were equivalent to ‘losses’ of 1–2% per annum and ∼ 3½% per annum, respectively. The decline of explosive power was faster than the decline of knee extensor strength in men (p = 0.0001), but not significantly so in women (p = 0.08). Power standardized for body weight influenced chair rise time and step height. Isometric knee extensor strength standardized for body weight influenced chair rise time.

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