Summary of “America Is Losing Its Grip”

3 Grip strength was not only “Inversely associated with all-cause mortality”-every 5 kilogram decrement in grip strength was associated with a 17 percent risk increase-but as the team, led by McMaster University professor of medicine Darryl Leong, noted: “Grip strength was a stronger predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure.”
5 Low grip strength has been linked to longer hospital stays,6 and in a study of hospitalized cancer patients, it was linked to a “An approximate 3-fold decrease in probability of discharge alive.”7 In older subjects, lower grip strength has even been linked with declines in cognitive performance.
Grip strength, he suggests, is not necessarily an overall indicator of health, nor is it causative-if you start building your grip strength now it does not ensure you will live longer-“But it is related to important things.” What’s more, it’s non-invasive, and inexpensive to measure.
“It gives you an overall sense of their status, and high grip strength is better than low grip strength.”
My strength rang in at nearly 62 kgs which, according to a chart of normative grip strengths in the Jamar’s manual, was above the mean for males 45-49, but not hugely outside the standard deviation.
She found that a group of males aged 20-24-ages that had produced some of the peak mean grip strength scores in the 1980s tests-had a mean grip strength of just 44.7 kgs, well below my own and far below the same cohort in the 1980s, whose mean was in the low 50s. There were also significant declines in female grip strength.
If a measure like grip strength were truly so robust a health indicator, shouldn’t life spans be declining as grip strength was? Bohannon warns me, “I would not interpret small declines in grip strength as indicative of decreasing health.” As he notes, you have to get pretty low in the statistical profile-“In the lowest quartile or tertile or below the median of a tested population”-before you start to get into increased mortality risk territory.
As the anthropologist Michael Gurven reminded me, “Women have lower grip strength than men, yet live longer and have lower mortality than men at most ages.” He also advised me not to discount the motivational factor in grip strength testing: “Offering a prize to folks does increase their scores.” Perhaps I was so intent on proving that “I still had it” against my millennial counterparts that I simply tried harder.

The orginal article.