A Healthy Grip Means a Healthy Body

Brilliance | Dec. 15, 2017

When a recent study set out to measure how fast different groups of people tend to age, they didn't look at their number of gray hairs or wrinkles, or even medical measures like blood pressure or cholesterol. Instead, they measured the strength of the each person's grip.

Why we're covering this:

Get A Grip

Why would grip strength be a health indictator? Both researchers and physicians rely on this easy measurement because evidence shows that a weak grip predicts all sorts of things, from longer hospital stays to disability and early death. Of course, simply working out your hands won't guarantee survival. Grip strength is predictive because it's a sign of health in other parts of your body: frail muscles in your hands probably mean frail muscles elsewhere, and an inability to close your hand fully could signify neurological issues. Still, grip strength itself is important in old age, when the ability to grasp a countertop while walking or grab the arm of a chair while sitting can mean the difference between a safe arrival and a broken hip.

How Do You Know Your Grip Strength?

To measure grip strength, experts use a specialized device called a dynamometer, but you can use something as simple as an analog bathroom scale to watch for differences in your strength from month to month. Weightlifters and other athletes have targeted exercises to build hand musculature, but for the rest of us, getting enough exercise is one of the best ways to maintain strength into old age.

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