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What Your Grip May Say About Your Health

By Sandy Schroeder

Sometimes it can be annoying when we struggle to open a jar in the kitchen, but that grip strength may say more about our health than we realize, according to Newsmax.

A new large UK study suggests grip strength may help predict future health better than the usual medical measurements. Grip strength has always been a measure of senior health, but researchers believe it may help doctors gauge health risks for people of all ages. It may predict the risks of heart and lung disease, cancer and overall mortality.

Reporting in The BMJ, Stuart Gray, PhD, from the University of Glasgow, said, "Grip strength showed a stronger association with cardiovascular disease than blood pressure and physical activity, which was a bit of a surprise."

Looking at the Research

A half-million people, ages 40 to 69, were studied for three years. The group was also tracked for seven years. During that period 3 percent died and 6 percent developed heart disease. Almost 6 percent were diagnosed with cancer, and 2 percent developed respiratory diseases.

Grip Strength Conclusions

Muscle weakness - Grip strength that was less than 57 pounds for men, and less than 35 pounds for women was linked to a higher overall risk of death and specific illnesses.

Improved readings - Grip strengths that were 11 pounds better were linked to a 20 percent less risk of death for women and 16 percent less for men.

Overall readings - Weaker grip strength readings increased the risk of heart disease by 19 percent for women and 22 percent for men. Risk of death from respiratory disease increased by 31 percent for women and 24 percent for men. In cancer deaths, the increase was 17 percent for women and 10 percent for men.

As a group, the people with the lowest grip strength were more likely to smoke, be overweight and have greater belly fat. They watched more TV, exercised less, and ate fewer fruits and vegetables.

Note: The study does not prove whether or how muscle strength influences health, but it may be a red flag for all of us. This research should inspire a lot more studies, but it should also prompt us to see how we measure up, and what else we can do to improve overall health. Ask your doctor about grip strength, and review your health numbers to see where you stand.

I suspect I will think of it every time I open a jar of pickles. That may be an excellent reminder to head outside for a walk, instead of back to the TV or computer.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Greenville, S.C.

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