Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


The Musculoskeletal System: The Science of Staying Active into Old Age

Newcastle University , The University of Sheffield and University of Liverpool via FutureLearn



This free online course has been developed by The Medical Research Council Versus Arthritis Centre for Integrated Research into Musculoskeletal Ageing, a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle. On this course, you’ll learn why our bones, joints and muscles function less well as we age, and discover how best to live well as we get older.

This course is designed for patients, carers and people who lead active lives and would appreciate knowing how their lifestyle is likely to affect their long-term health. It may also inspire you to study or research musculoskeletal ageing. No previous biological experience is needed.

This course will also be ideal for those from a non-biological background who may be interested in studying or researching musculoskeletal ageing at postgraduate level. For more information see our MRes and PhD training pages on our web site.

Taught by

Michael Trenell, Peter Grabowski and Lesley Iwanejko

Related Courses


4.8 rating, based on 305 reviews

Start your review of The Musculoskeletal System: The Science of Staying Active into Old Age

  • Profile image for Veronica Maged
    Veronica Maged

    Veronica Maged completed this course.

    I'm 62 years old and terrified of getting older with no information about this process. I 'm in very good health and I feel young and so far nothing changes regarding my energy to do things. I'm single and have been waiting to be retired to learning everything...
  • Anonymous
    This course was interesting, informative and well designed. It offered different perspectives on the topic; it included sub-areas such as nutrition, health and movement; the activities were well designed; I mean, there was a balance between information provided through articles or videos and discussion. The questions posed made me reflect on what was being discussed. Besides, I felt there were always suggestions as to what I could do in order to improve any of the areas under discussion.

    I learned a lot, I enjoyed reading the articles or watching the videos. Thanks a lot !

  • Anonymous
    Depressing, at the same time full of positive messages. some of the medical technical terms I tended to skip over. Advice on exercise and diet was good and down to earth in summery. I did learn new information about how my body works and particularly vitamin D.

    The course will change my lifestyle a bit although I try to run at least twice a week and would swim at least that if it was not for this pandemic. My diet is reasonable by the standards set out in the course.

    Thank you a lot of work has gone into this venture.
  • Anonymous
    I found this course to be extremely interesting and would encourage younger people to take an interest in completing it if and when they have the time. I'm sure it would benefit the majority of the population prior to become old and muscle and joint movement have disappeared.
    The level of detail in which the course was set I thought was about right and its interesting to know that the studies into ageing is still progressing.
    Thank you to all who have set up and taken part in the course

    Yours sincerely
  • Anonymous
    A very interesting course about the effects of ageing on the muscles and bones, and on health and well-being in general. It has provided me with lots of insights into the ageing process and some useful information about how I might stay well as I age more. Thank you.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found this course to be very interesting and have learnt so much from it, it has made me to take a look at my own life style and the changes i can make. Exercise for one is at the top of my list especially to incorporate some aerobic exercise. I have...
  • Anonymous
    This is a wide-ranging course consisting of: the biology of the musculoskeletal system, the importance of exercise and a good diet. I found that it held my interest through interesting articles and short lively videos.

    Much information was fairly detailed, but always explained clearly and simply. Because I am very interested in this topic I was familiar with some aspects, but I still learnt a great deal. This course is designed for learners at many levels. If health interests you then this course is for you.
  • Anonymous
    This course was well structured and very informative at a level that would be accessible to a wide range of people without relevant expertise in the subject. It shows exactly why we should all be interested in this topic. The inclusion of testimony from people that are currently experiencing musculoskeletal issues makes the subject more engaging and relevant. These different contributors also have a range of different backstories in terms of their physical and dietary history which helps promote this subject as one that should interest and concern everyone. It is also excellent in that is points the way in which we can all make changes in our lives to try and reduce the aging effects on the musculoskeletal system.
  • Anonymous
    The course was well paced, totally to the point and gave varied views on the different aspects
    of the musculoskeletal system.
    Being 75 years old, fairly fit, underweight rather than overweight, but facing the second of 2 knee operations in 5 months, later this month, I was particularly interested in the science of staying active in old age.
    The content of the course was very relevant to my situation and I am happy and reassured that I cannot do much more than take my regular exercise, continue T'ai chi and eat sensibly, as I have always done , having access to an allotment and fortunate with mainly good weather on the South Coast.
  • Anonymous
    I'm halfway through week 3. My studies have been interrupted by major surgery which has made week 3 difficult as the anaesthetic seems to have turned my brain to mush. So far I have found this course informative and interesting. I am 62 and am taking anastrozole after a breast cancer diagnosis. I am experiencing rapid chemically induced musculoskeletal ageing so this course has particular relevance to me. I live in the UK and, whereas I have recieved excellent treatment, there is a lack of information about the issues this course addresses both for normal ageing and also for treatment induced musculoskeletal ageing.

  • Anonymous
    To be honest, I probably had high expectation from this course. Perhaps, I had expected more details on science in relation to food, vitamins, minerals, supplements... Moreover, this area is highly developed science now, and anyone could get qualified advise from nutritionist nowadays. So, I was expecting more deep knowledge on how musculoskeletal system and nutrition are interrelated. And also more details on the details of the main diseases, such as osteoporosis, arthritis etc... The examples of exercises (video or pictures) would benefit this course, I believe.
  • Anonymous
    Thank you for sharing this information. One might think that eating is a natural process and that people normally have a balanced nutrition, but this course makes things clearer when it describes the amounts of nutrients and the daily requirements. So, it is important to bear this in mind, specially if we are adults and have a sedentary life.

    Adults have to pay more attention to their nutritional habits because of certain ageing factors and they also need to be aware that they have to meet the daily requirements by being conscious of the kind of food they purchase .
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Very informative and easy to understand. Made me more aware of the interlinking of these systems and what they need to continue functioning well. I do think that in sections on physical activity it would be helpful for some acknowledgement for disabled students and suggestions at integrating activity into their lives when they cannot join a gym, walking club etc. I found it quite frustrating as someone who is limited in their physical capacity to be urged to exercise. In some ways lack of acknowledgement made me feel as if I am a bit written off. Sorry if this sounds a bit "snowflake"
  • Anonymous
    This course gave a very interesting overview of the process of musculo-skeletal ageing; from outlining the anatomy and physiology and then on to the effects of exercise and nutrition on the body. The variety of contributors and the clarity of the information provided was very good, and alongside the academics I appreciated the input of Patient Educators who described living with problems associated with disease processes.
    There was good advice to take away from the course in terms of practical options for diet and exercise. It was worthwhile and informative.
  • Tony Harris
    It has been an interesting course that pulls together the various factors that effect ageing peoples musculoskeletal system. It talks about the research that is taking place to better understand the problems and the various factors that are being explored.

    It is clear that following a healthy diet, avoiding becoming over weight and taking exercise go a long way to maintaining mobility. The importance of vitamin D is also discussed and of course we are also finding its importance in enabling the body fight the Covid 19 virus.
  • Anonymous
    This was a fascinating and thought provoking course. It's all based around scientific evidence and so is quite inspirational. It offers a key to a longer, active life, which I'm sure many of the people who participated will embrace.

    I take Vitamin D, but learning that short sharp bursts of weight bearing exercise offer more benefits to bone growth than one long period of activity was a surprise. I will also think more about what I eat...I can't pretend that I don't know what a healthy diet is, and why it's important.

    Thank you.
  • Brian Murray
    We are living in a world that has ageing populations and this will present great challenges for medicine and ageing people. We need courses like this that try to educate people about ageing and how to deal with the processes that are involved in ageing. The importance of exercise and diet cannot be stressed enough in helping ageing people make the most of their latter years. It is heartening to know people are researching the ageing processes and looking to mitigate the effects where possible. This is a necessary course.
  • Anonymous
    this is a fantastic introduction to healthy ageing especially for non-health trained people whose incidence of osteoarthritis is higher due to genetics or the damaging effects of sporting activities which have taken a toll on bones and joints.

    The incidence of a sedentary life as we age is examined through personal stories and the benefits of good nutrition is really well explained using examples of what a 'healthy diet' is, which is a term much bandied about but really not well spelled out for the average person.
  • Anonymous
    Informative and interesting and delivered in bite sized chunks so as not to be overwhelming. Consolidates the importance of eating a diet to support your body’s needs as well as exercise for the same reason. This course acts as a wake up call and an incentive to act. However, the style is supportive rather than bossy and regular feedback/comments appear to be valued. There is also a supportive online community to interact with if you wish to.
  • Anonymous
    A good instructive course.For me the NHS web site for exercise was excellent and enabled me with confidence try the courses for fitness.
    Information concerning the important way in helping ourselves in ensuring a better life through eating correctly is also good.
    I am not sure the first week was really helpful for a person like me above a certain age. Maybe a wake up call for the younger person!

    Thank you.

Never Stop Learning!

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Sign up for free