‘Older doesn’t have to mean weaker’: Sheila Hancock reveals her secret fitness addiction

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Rex)

Far from slowing down in later life, BAFTA-award winning actress Sheila Hancock has revealed that she's upped her gym regime at the age of 85.

The actress, who has starred in shows including Sky1's Delicious, has confessed that contrary to the gentle exercises most women her age arguably favour, she's instead turned to a more energetic way of keeping fit in her 80s.

After realising that she could no longer lift luggage into the holds above seats on airplanes, Sheila revealed how she was motivated to take up a sport typically associated with people younger than her - weight-lifting.

Sheila, who was married to John Thaw for 28 years until his death in 2002, admitted the method of training is now her new addiction, after years of preferring cardio.

She revealed, "I've been weight lifting. I love it. I've never done weights before. I always go to the gym but I usually do cardio.

"I started going to the gym to get fit for a movie about climbing a mountain, which we filmed for two months solid, and now I'm addicted to it. This year I got a personal trainer and he got me into lifting weights."

However, she has confessed she's not sure quite how much weight she's actually benching on a daily basis, admitting, "I don't know the size of the weights I do but they are great big discs on the end of the pole. They're the same size as the ones the men do.

(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

"Before, I could barely lift just the pole." Sounds good enough to us!

And it seems the benefits to Sheila's strength and stamina have been tenfold.

The celebrated actress said, "There's lots of medical evidence to support the fact that it's incredibly good for bones and strength and all sorts of age-related problems."

Speaking about how her new-found method of training has impacted her, Sheila confessed, "I feel so strong now.

"I was beginning to notice I couldn't put my hand luggage above my seat on a plane, and that sort of thing. It was all muscle wastage to do with getting older."

"But lifting weights has restored muscle that had gone. My bicep is back now. My lower arms are strong. Some people do weights to look toned but I just want to stay strong as I get older. You don't have to get weak as you get older - I've proved that."

Proving age is yet again nothing but a number!

In fact, there's some real truth to Sheila's claims. The NHS states that strength training is one of the best ways to improve muscle strength and power, as well as one of the best techniques to help slow down bone and muscle loss as you age.

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Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.