A new study has found a direct association between grip strength and biological age, as measured by DNA analysis. This new information helps us to understand the mechanism by which muscle strength predicts the onset of age-related diseases and untimely death.
We'll take a closer look at the study, and learn how we can use this new knowledge to help extend our health, including bone health.
Study Links Grip Strength To Biological Age
Researchers at Michigan Medicine have established an inverse relationship between grip strength and biological age.
Their study analyzed data from 1,274 middle-aged and older adults and compared their scores on a grip strength test to their biological age as established by DNA methylation. DNA methylation is a process that produces a molecular biomarker and estimator of the pace of a person's biological aging.
The grip strength test was performed with a spring-type hand dynamometer. When squeezed in one hand, the device measures grip strength. Participants took the test four times, twice with each hand, alternating sides, and the highest score was taken as their maximum grip strength.
The researchers followed the participants over the course of 10 years to observe how the relationship between grip strength and biological age was interrelated.
While our chronological age is simply the number of days we've been alive, our biological age measures the rate at which our body is aging. In this way, your biological age could be older or younger than your chronological age. People with biological ages that are older than their chronological age are at higher risk for developing age-related diseases earlier in life.1
This study observed that participants with low grip strength had older biological ages than those with high grip strength.1
A study found that among 1,274 middle-aged and older participants, those with high grip strength had a lower biological age than those with low grip strength.
The Predictions Of Grip Strength
The researchers chose grip strength due to the robust data on the relationship between muscle strength and health outcomes. Grip strength serves as a simple way to measure overall muscle strength.
Studies have established that people with low muscle strength are more likely to suffer disease, disability, and early death than people with stronger muscles.1
While this association is clear, scientists have not established the exact mechanism that underlies it. This new study offers the possibility that poor muscle strength is translating into the onset of age-related diseases because weak muscles are leading to faster biological aging.
In a press release, the author of the study Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S. said that smoking cigarettes has long been known to be a powerful predictor of disease and mortality. He suggested that muscle weakness could be a new predictor.2
Grip strength is a standard measure for overall muscle strength, which is known to associate with health outcomes. This study suggests that the increased risk of disease and death from low muscle strength may be occurring because of faster biological aging.
Muscle Strength, Health, And Bones
The clearest takeaway of this research is that maintaining strong muscles can prevent the onset of disease and extend lifespan. The conclusion of the published study stated this quite explicitly:
“Preservation of muscle strength may positively influence healthy ageing by protecting against DNAm (methylation) age acceleration.”1
This finding pairs perfectly with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Building and maintaining muscle strength is a fundamental part of the program's plan for preventing and reversing osteoporosis. In fact, the impact of muscle strength on bone health is part of the cause-and-effect that makes muscle strength such an effective predictor of disease and mortality.
Strong muscles build strong bones. Exercises that increase muscle strength stimulate the production of new bone. As muscle mass increases, you increase the amount of force that muscles can apply to bone, which further increases the production of strong, durable new bone mass.
This simple yet often ignored mechanism is described in Wolff's Law. Wolff was the first scientist to document and study the way that bones reshape themselves in response to the force applied on them by muscle. Our knowledge of Wolff's Law allows us to choose actions, such as regular weight-bearing exercise, that stimulate the production of new bone mass.
Maintaining strong muscles can prevent the onset of disease and extend lifespan. Strong muscles also stimulate the production of new bone mass, so this advice is perfectly aligned with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
What This Means To You
Building and maintaining your muscle strength in general, and grip strength in particular, are effectives way to reduce your risk of disease and early death. It also directly stimulates the production of new bone mass.
Regular strength-building exercise is so important that the Save Institute created an online video-workout platform to make exercise easy. SaveTrainer includes a myriad of grip strengthening workout classes such as ‘Express Total Body & Bones', ‘Easy Arms', and ‘Wristy Business', to name a few, specially designed to help you strengthen your bones. You can build customizable workout routines available for every fitness level and the classes are led by professional trainers in a wide variety of styles and practices. Best of all, it's available online 24/7 — so you can work out wherever you want, whenever you want.
Building healthy habits that work for you is an essential step to creating lasting wellness and strong, healthy bones.
Are you familiar with OsteoStrong for bone and muscle strength. What do you think of this program?
Leg strength is equally important as grip strength and so also core strength. I don’t agree that grip strength is the simplest way chking overall muscular strength. It mat lead to misconceptions amongst beginners that leg and core are not imp and concentrating on grip strength exercises is the way to go.
Hi, Yes just as you cannot loose fat from one part of your body – we are holistic organisms after all 🙂 – it follows that strength in one part of the body would indicate strength throughout the entire body. ergo we can surmise that having good grip strength would indicate good muscular tone throughout the body. It is well documented stronger people age better and live longer. Correlation but not causation.
I appreciate your research and explanation! Thanks Viviane!
Biological aging? How do we know our biological age?
Very interesting and usefull information, Vivian. Thank you!
I am 70 years old and can easily do 50 push-ups from the knees, 80 split squats in a 20-minute HIIT workout and can walk briskly for 4 miles up and down hills, to name a few things. I strengthen my core with Pilates. However, I am sure my grip strength is poor due to repetitive use injury, surgery in two places in my right hand and a sprained wrist that is not healing well. I doubt that a grip strength test would be a true measurement of my overall muscle strength or my biological age. There has to be another way to test people like me with hand issues, including arthritis.
Thank you, Ita.