How a lack of grip strength can impact you as you age

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Did you know there’s an association between your grip strength and aging?

While two people may be the same age, their biological ages may differ. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that biological age can be determined through muscle strength. The study of 1,275 participants in the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study found that those with weaker muscle strength had a higher biological age — meaning they aged faster.

“Our findings provide some initial evidence of age acceleration among men and women with lower (normalized grip strength) and loss of strength over time,” researchers concluded. “Future research is needed to understand the extent to which (DNA methylation) age mediates the association between grip strength and chronic disease, disability and mortality.”

But what does grip strength mean? It’s not just about whether you can open bottles or jars easily. Rather, it’s about how strong the muscles in your hands and forearms are. It’s an indicator of overall muscle strength, according to Very Well Health.

“People with better grip strength age more slowly. Having a good grip strength can slow the process of immunosenescence, or the decline in your immune defense associated with aging,” said Dr. Ardeshir Hashmi, a geriatric medicine specialist said in an article by Cleveland Clinic. “It can also improve your ability to bounce back from diseases, or homeostenosis. Finally, it can prevent frailty.”

So, what can you do to improve your grip strength? If you started today, would you slow down aging? Well, researchers conclude that it’s not exactly that easy.

“Grip strength is a proxy indicator of overall muscle strength, meaning that it is highly correlated to other measures of strength. Thus, simply increasing grip strength would not render any changes to health or longevity,” lead author of the research Mark D. Peterson, told Medical News Today.

Nevertheless, exercises that improve your grip and overall muscle strength should be added to your daily routine. They can help you move through your daily life with ease whether it helps with carrying the groceries inside or pulling yourself up from the tub easier.

These three exercises recommended by Healthline can help.

Towel wringing

For this exercise, grab a towel near you and drench it in water. Grab the two ends of the towel with each hand and hold it out in front of you. Twist both ends in opposite directions and repeat until the towel is wrung out. Then, wet your towel again and repeat the full process at least three times.

Hand clench

For this exercise, you need a tennis ball or stress ball. Place the ball at the center of your palm and squeeze the ball as tight as you can using your fingers and not your thumb. Repeat 50-100 times a day.

Pinch grip transfer

For this exercise, you’ll need weight plates. While standing up straight, grab the edge of the plate using only your index finger and thumb. Then, while continuing to pinch the plate, bring it up to your chest. Take your other hand and pinch the other end of the plate, and let go of your first hand. Bring the plate down to your side. Repeat this transfer 10 times three times a day.