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Want to know about your heart health? Test your grip strength!



Are you good at opening jars?

 

A new study says if you are, you might live longer. Well, not exactly. But what the study did show is that a person’s grip strength is a simple yet significant way to predict their risk of death from various cardiovascular illnesses.

grip

 

The study included more than half a million participants from 17 different countries around the world. Participants were followed for four years, and their grip strength was measured through a handgrip dynamometer. Their findings showed that grip strength is an even better predictor of death than looking at a person’s blood pressure.

 

Read full study here: (https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k1651)

 

Specifically, the research suggests that for each 5 kg decrease in grip strength, a person is:

 

  • 16 percent more likely to die
  • 17 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular complications
  • 7 percent more likely to die from a heart attack
  • 9 percent more likely to have a stroke

 

So does this mean that if you come into the gym and work on farmer carries and spend hours hanging from the pull-up bar, that you’ll fend off heart disease in your future?

 

Unfortunately, no.


What the researchers suggest is that it works the other way around: Those with cardiovascular disease end up losing muscular strength, including grip strength.

 

So where this research is useful then is perhaps to diagnose cardiovascular disease. If you find your grip strength deteriorating, it might be time to get a check up. Or as the author of the study Dr. Darryl Leong explained, “Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual’s risk of death and cardiovascular disease.”

 

Even though you probably can’t fend off heart disease from working on your grip, having good grip strength is still useful for life: Carrying 8 bags of groceries is easier when you’re grip strength is on point, and so is opening jars, of course!

 

Here are 2 ways to test and improve your grip

 

  1. Deadhang hold from a pull-up bar:

 

How long can you hold on before your forearms start burning, or your grip gives out and you peel right off?

 

  • Less than 20 seconds: Fail
  • 1 minute: C +
  • 1-2 minutes: B
  • 2-3 minutes: A -
  • More than 3 minutes: A +

 

  1. Farmer Carry:

 

Can you farmer carry your bodyweight for 100 meters (50% of bodyweight in each hand)? If not, it’s a good goal to work toward!

 

Hang on tight!

 

Coach Viv