A Strong Grip Means a Longer Life

Problem

Doctors like simple indicators that can predict a patients’ overall health and risk of dying, like rate of exercise or blood pressure.

Reality

Your grip might be a better indicator of your overall health and risk of dying than rate of exercise or blood pressure.

Method

Unlike most past studies on grip, which were small and narrowly focused, this new study published in the Lancet over 140,000 people from countries all over the world. Each participant had an initial heath screening; the screening included a measurement of grip strength.

Participants were followed up with an average of four years later; 2.4 per cent of the initial participants had died by that point.

Results

After adjusting for demographic and health factors (like age and medical history, respectively), the researchers found that for every five-kilogram decrease in grip strength, the risk of dying within four years increased by sixteen per cent. On top of that, the risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease (like a stroke or heart attack), increased by seventeen per cent. Researchers also found that grip strength had two times the association with risk of death as blood pressure, which is used nearly universally.

The Takeaway

Chances are, you already know if you’re unhealthy. If you’re overweight, don’t exercise, drink too much, have high stress, or smoke, your risk of death is higher than the next guy over. And if you’re in denial about those things, we don’t see a grip test as changing your mind. But you might see your doctor testing your grip during your next annual check-up. You do schedule an annual check-up, right?


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