Dr. Kate Duchowny, who has recently completed her doctorate in epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and her colleagues, analyzed data from the Health and Retirement study. This has been a public source for research on aging since 1990. The researchers looked at the data of a nationally representative sample of 8,326 men and women ages 65 and older. They found that people with low muscle strength had a 50% chance of dying earlier than those who bulked up on muscle.
According to Duchowny, "maintaining muscle strength throughout life - and especially later life - is important for longevity and aging independently."
The muscle strength of the participants was measured by using a device called a dynamometer, which a patient squeezes in order to determine their hand grip strength. Men whose result was less than 85 pounds and women whose hand grip strength was less than 48 pounds were considered to have weak muscle strength, making up 46% of the sample.
Consequently, the findings led Duchowny to conclude that grip strength measurements should become a staple of routine physicals, particularly because they are easy to use and cost-effective. She also adds that: “This study further highlights the importance of integrating grip strength measurements into routine care—not just for older adults but even in midlife,” Duchowny said. “Having hand grip strength be an integral part of routine care would allow for earlier interventions, which could lead to increased longevity and independence for individuals.”