We often get weaker as we get older. As the years go by, we start to lose some muscle mass and strength. That’s one of the reasons I’m always encouraging you to start doing some regular strength training, before it’s too late.
Doctors call this loss of muscle sarcopenia. But I call it an independence thief. Because the frailer you become the harder it is to do the things you need to, let alone the ones you WANT to.
Everyday activities such as shopping, going out to socialize and even taking care of your home become more and more difficult. And if things get bad enough you may even lose your independence altogether, relying on other folks to get things done.
One common way that doctors and physical therapists test your overall muscle strength is to measure your handgrip. It’s typically done using a device called a dynamometer. You grip the machine with your hand and squeeze it as hard as you can and it records how many kilograms you squeeze.
Grip strength warning signs
Researchers have found that a weak grip strength can be an early warning sign for future health problems and mobility issues. In fact, in one study a decline of just 5-kilograms over four years was associated with a…
- seven percent increased risk of having a heart attack
- nine percent greater chance of a stroke
- 17 percent increased risk of dying from a heart attack
In another, scientists connected a weak grip strength in seniors to trouble getting around. Men 65 or older with a weak grip were seven times more likely to be facing mobility issues than guys who had normal grips.
And now researchers have uncovered a link between grip strength and lung health in older adults. In the new study, which focused on a group of women between the ages of 65 and 79, researchers found their hand grip strength was linked to lung capacity.
And the reason why is simple. But the consequences can be significant.
Grip strength and lung function
You see, as you lose muscle strength you lose it all over, including the muscles that help you breathe. And as your lung function drops your risk for pneumonia, bronchitis, heart disease and even death climbs.
If you’re interested in having your grip strength tested, you can ask your doctor about it during your next visit.
But tracking your grip strength at home over time could help you spot some health issues early. Plus it’s a great way to track your progress when you start strength training such as using resistance bands.
Tracking your grip strength at home
Professional dynamometers are pricey, costing nearly $300 or more. But digital home versions are far much more affordable, usually costing less than $35. You can find them online or in some department stores such as Walmart. A brand we like is Camry.
Or if you have an old analog scale in your bathroom, you can use it instead.
- Simply hold the scale with the front facing you and squeeze with your dominate hand as hard as you can for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Repeat it three times with a 30 second rest period between each squeeze.
- Write down the highest number you reached and keep track of it over time.
The important thing is consistency. Try to hold the scale the same way and squeeze the faceplate in the same spot each time. If you’re more of a visual learner check YouTube for some examples
You can covert the pounds to kilograms online using a search engine if you want to compare it to other folks in your age group.
A normal range for men ages…
- 60 to 64 is 30 to 48 kilograms
- 65 to 69 is 22 to 44 kilograms
- 70 and older is 21 to 35 kilograms
And a normal range for women ages…
- 60 to 64 is 17 to 31 kilograms
- 65 to 69 is 15.4 to 27 kilograms
- 70 and older is 14.7 to 24.5 kilograms
Declining muscle mass can steal your strength AND your breath over time. Don’t let it. Fight back with some simple strength training exercises starting today.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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