Updated: May 16
It sounds cool and might even sell memberships at your local gym but is there actually anything to the belief that stronger people are harder to kill? To answer this question we are going to look at a pretty powerful prospective population study of 500,000 men and women over the course of 10 years. What they looked at was grip strength of all individuals in comparison to the incidence of and mortality from:
-all respiratory disease
-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
-all cancers in the broad sense
-all causes of mortality
Well, what did they find? People of all ages within the study who had a lower grip strength of 5kg’s or less were more likely to develop all causes of mortality, cardiovascular disease, all respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, all cancers, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer. They were not found to have increased risk of prostate cancer mortality but were more likely to have become diagnosed with prostate cancer. They also found that adding grip strength into predictive health measurements like; sex, age, weight, BMI, smoking, diabetes, and blood pressure, made these values stronger in their prediction of disease. Whoa, well how in the world does grip strength have any merit on health? If this study is correct in the correlation between strength and health, should I get some putty and increase my grip strength? Grip strength is associated with overall strength. In order to get stronger, someone has to pick up heavy things and move them around. Your grip naturally increases as you work towards strength. Grip strength is just an easy way to measure overall strength and the key is to lift heavy things regularly. Crazy enough the simplicity of this just might reduce your risk of a whole list of diseases or even death.
Finally, let's step back and not over value strength. This study is a prospective study meaning it doesn’t produce causation statements. What this means is that a stronger grip doesn’t prevent disease. What it does mean is that a stronger grip (and overall strength) reduces the likelihood of disease. With this many people over this many years, with this much correlation, we at The Health Lab think it’s worth the effort to be as strong as possible.