Did you ever wince from a vice-like handshake? We all know them. They come at you, bigger than life, and you get the sense that they believe that the strength of their handshake says something about their vitality. Actually, they’re right. It turns out that your grip strength is an even better indicator of your longevity than your blood pressure!
Scientists have been interested in the association between physical strength and health for many years. It turns out that handgrip strength is a good predictor of longevity. There is a reproducible, inverse relationship between grip strength and the risk of death. This means that people with strong grips have a lower risk of dying than similar people with weak grips. Intuitively, our strong-handshake friends are onto something.
The foundational BodyWHealth recommendations for Physical Health are to walk 10,000 steps on at least 5 days of every week, and to count the calories you eat and burn in order to ensure appropriate calorie balance (and weight control). These two interventions have proven dramatic impact on your risk of death and disease because they directly influence the burden of excessive inflammation in your body. The findings on grip strength remind us of the value of strength (or resistance) training in addition to your cardiovascular exercise.
In a study published recently in The Lancet, researchers confirmed earlier work that proved the association between the risk of death and grip strength, but this time across a wide range of cultural and geographic differences. In the study of over 140,000 people, they showed that grip strength is associated with the risk of death from any cause, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, the risk of death from non-cardiovascular disease, the risk of heart attack and the risk of stroke.
Although this research doesn’t prove that you will reduce your risk of dying by increasing your grip strength (it wasn’t designed to show this), it adds to the compelling evidence that strength training is good for you. So, once you’re set up to achieve your 10,000-step target each week, add in a couple of strength sessions. This is the road to robust health, the foundation of WHealth.