Originally created 02/18/99

Men's grip strength a disability predictor



The strength of a man's grip in midlife can predict physical disability in his senior years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health analyzed data from more than 6,000 healthy men who had their hand strength tested between 1965 and 1970. The men at that time were between the ages of 45 and 68. More than 3,200 surviving men had follow-up tests to assess their physical strength on average about 25 years later. The researchers found that those men who originally had low hand strength, in the later tests were more likely to have difficulty with movements such as rising out of a chair, walking up a flight of stairs, doing heavy housework or lifting 10 pounds.

"Our study provides strong evidence that hand grip strength predicts functional limitations and disability 25 years later . . . ," the authors wrote. "Muscle strength is found to track over the life span: those who had higher grip strength during midlife remained stronger than others in old age. People with greater muscle strength during midlife are at a lower risk of becoming disabled because of their greater reserve of strength regardless of chronic conditions that may develop."