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Grip strength as and indicator for Longevity and Health

Written by Mike Thompson

As we age it is commonly known for health related risk factors to increase. The

maintenance of muscle strength, physical fitness and physical well-being is a very

important factor to preserve independence and consequently a high quality of life during old age (1). The aging process involves several changes. The most evident change

includes a loss of strength and the ability to care for oneself, causing disability, frailty,

and a decreased quality of life (2). Research suggests that muscle strength gradually

decreases from the 30th year until about the 50th year of life. In the 6th decade of life,

an accelerated, non-linear decrease by 15% has been observed, and by the 8th

decade, this may be up to 30% (3).

Walston et al, 2012 states that sarcopenia, or the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with

age, is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence

in older adults. Sarcopenia can contribute to a number of adverse health outcomes,

including loss of function, disability, and frailty. Sarcopenia is also associated with acute

and chronic disease states, increased insulin resistance, fatigue, falls, and mortality.

Within the research there is high correlation that grip strength is a useful clinical marker of sarcopenia (4) Handgrip strength assessment serves as a feasible, quick, and reliable tool to examine vitality and physical function in the elderly population, The handgrip strength reflects a variety of physical function indices and is therefore regarded as an important indicator of health-related quality of life of older adults (5)

Another study found that greater grip strength was strongly associated with higher testosterone levels in younger and healthier individuals. Similarly, people with high testosterone had a lower risk of low muscle strength (2). Finally the evidence suggests an association between low grip strength at baseline, and decline in cognition, mobility and functional status during follow up.(6) there has also been a positive relationship between baseline hand grip strength, and mortality and hospitalization rate, this suggests that measuring hand grip strength can be used more broadly, because of its predictive validity for decline in cognition, mobility, functional status and mortality (6)

From the current literature the authors recommended exercise training for community-dwelling older adults in order to improve or maintain functions of activities of daily living and to remain independent. (5) Thus, if the aim is to increase hand grip strength, the authors recommend at least 9 weeks of task-specific training with variable heart frequency, 75% 1 RM, and perceived “somewhat hard” or “hard” exertion (5)

High-intensity strength (resistance) training (>75% of the maximal strength capacity) thus triggers higher increases in strength than training of medium or low intensity. High-intensity progressive strength (resistance) training is therefore effective, and substantial adverse effects are not to be expect with elderly population.(3)

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