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Take a Grasp of your Muscle Health by Strengthening Your Grip

The rate at which people age varies from person to person. It's possible for two individuals who are both 50 years old to have different biological ages due to various factors impacting their aging process. Lifestyle choices, such as diet, smoking, and illness, can all contribute to accelerating biological aging, causing the body to age faster than expected. Researchers have discovered that muscle weakness, as indicated by grip strength, is linked to accelerated biological aging. In essence, the weaker your grip strength, the older your biological age. This finding was published in The Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle.

Researchers at Michigan Medicine modeled the relationship between biological age and grip strength of 1,274 middle aged and older adults using three "age acceleration clocks" based on DNA methylation, a process that provides a molecular biomarker and estimator of the pace of aging. The clocks were originally modeled from various studies examining diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, physical disability, Alzheimer's disease, inflammation and early mortality.


Results indicate that both older men and women exhibited a connection between lower grip strength and accelerated biological aging based on DNA methylation clocks.


"We've long been aware that muscular strength can predict longevity, and that weakness is a strong indicator of disease and mortality. Now, for the first time, we have compelling evidence of a biological link between muscle weakness and actual acceleration in biological age," explained Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., lead author of the study and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. "This suggests that maintaining muscle strength throughout life may help guard against many common age-related diseases. We already know that smoking can strongly predict disease and mortality, but now we understand that muscle weakness could be the new smoking."


The study's real strength lay in its eight to 10 years of observation. Lower grip strength was found to predict faster biological aging measured up to a decade later, according to Jessica Faul, Ph.D., M.P.H., a co-author of the study and research associate professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research.


Previous studies have demonstrated that low grip strength is a highly accurate predictor of adverse health events. In fact, one study concluded that it is a better predictor of cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction, than systolic blood pressure, which is the clinical hallmark for detecting heart disorders. Peterson and his team have previously established a strong link between weakness and chronic disease and mortality across populations.


This evidence, coupled with the recent findings of their study, shows the potential for clinicians to adopt muscle strength testing as a way to screen individuals for the future risk of functional decline, chronic disease, and even early mortality.


Screening for muscle strength would provide the opportunity to design interventions to delay or prevent the onset or progression of these adverse "age-related" health events. Despite the numerous publications demonstrating that muscle strength is a reliable measure of health, it is not widely used.

We all know it is crucial to maintain healthy dietary habits, but regular exercise is the most critical factor in preserving health across your lifespan. A Muscle Health Assessment can unveil crucial data points linked to overall health, physical capability, and as we know now, the rate at which you are aging.

About the author

Philip Stotter, MS, CEP

Philip Stotter, MS, CEP has over 25+ years of experience in the medical, health, wellness, and professional sports industries. Clinician turned business developer, Philip is a sought-after industry speaker and professional consultant. His ground-breaking work in injury prevention, paired with the science of human movement, has put him at the forefront of product development with a multidisciplinary approach that integrates physiology, biomechanics, cutting-edge technologies, and data-driven research.