Do you have a firm handshake? If so, it could suggest something about your personality as well as your fitness level. Grip strength could help predict how well you tolerate illness and disease.
A 2016 study which reviewed 34 articles on the subject stated that grip strength has a predictive correlation for a decline in health, functional status, mortality and also mobility. The weaker the grip, the more likely it was for a decline in overall health. There was a positive association between grip strength, cognition and the above mentioned factors of mobility, mortality and functional status.
In the review, the higher the grip strength at baseline, the less likely an individual was likely to suffer from a decline in these factors later in life. The higher an individual’s hand strength was, the less likely that person was to suffer from a decline in health and longevity as age advanced.
Grip strength seems to be a measure of overall body strength and muscle mass. Measurement can easily be taken with a device known as a hand dynamometer. After age 40, grip strength naturally declines and this could be secondary to genetics or lack of physical fitness. One author has stated that hand strength is 50% genetic and 50% is related to lifestyle. Lower grip strength is associated with cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as several forms of cancer to include colon, breast and lung cancer.
Loss of muscle mass in middle age as measured by grip strength could predict disability in later years.
For each 11-pound decline in hand strength, there is a 16% higher chance of all-cause mortality. There is a 9% higher possibility of a stroke and a 7% higher possibility of a heart attack.
Improving grip strength alone is not going to improve your overall health. Muscle strength is an indicator your ability to survive certain diseases and grip strength is an indicator of muscle strength and fitness. Higher grip strength suggests a favorable level of physical fitness as well as a more independent life style. Not all older adults are frail. Exercise and a healthy diet are important through out the timeline of life but it is never too late to begin to exercise. Incorporate resistance training into your routine as a regular part of your exercises. Low grip strength is associated with sarcopenia or loss of muscle mass, which occurs with aging.
If you don’t want to buy a hand dynamometer, find an overhead horizontal bar at the local playground and see how long you can hang from it using a two-hand grip. A fit and strong person should be able to hang for at least 60 seconds. The one arm hang takes it to an entirely different level. Ten seconds is a good start and 30 seconds suggests better than average grip strength. Over 60 seconds puts you in the elite level.
Also, there is no dishonor in carrying your suitcase through the airport. Those diminutive suitcase wheels are not doing you any favors. See if you can hold and carry a suitcase in each hand and carry them for at least 50 yards. In strong man competitions, this is called the farmer’s carry. Try holding that same weight or possibly even as much as half your body weight in each hand and try to hold that for at least one minute. You might miss your plane but at least you will be fit, live a lot longer and excel at independent living skills which require mobility and strength. Therefore, for optimal health, get a grip!