June 6, 2016

Weak handshake, early grave

Is it true that there is a correlation between grip strength and longevity? Could the quality of a handshake really tell more about how long one will live? Actually, an April 2007 study in the American Journal of Medicine examined this very idea. Among men and women ages 45 to 75, there was in fact a correlation between a weaker grip strength and a higher likelihood of passing away.

Perhaps grip strength is a proxy for overall body strength. After age 35, the body reduces its muscle mass through natural processes. It can become difficult to open jars or hold onto things when they’re heavy. This is why it’s so important to continue building your strength, including grip strength, as you age.

One technique is to use strength gripping tools designed specifically to help your grip strength.  This is especially great to consider if you sit at a desk all day or if you don’t have access to a gym. If you use the bars at the gym, you can opt to wrap a towel around the bar to make it bigger, thus requiring a larger grip and building better grip strength. You can also purchase actual grips that can be placed around the bar, instead of using a towel.

Other exercises or techniques can be incorporated such as basic compound carries, dead lifts, hanging from a bar, and a farmer’s carry. These will not only improve grip strength, but work to increase your overall body strength as well.

A handshake can be very telling, as it is a window into one’s level of grip strength. Grip strength may even become a limiting factor in the ability to get stronger, if the grip gives out before the larger muscles. Improving grip strength will not only help you build overall strength, but it may even help you live longer.

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