Adolescents with a strong hand grip have better odds of being healthy over time, according to a study of 368 elementary school kids.
While other studies have shown that muscle weakness as measured by grip strength is a predictor of unhealthy outcomes, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, disability and even early mortality, this is the first to do so for adolescent health over time, research says.
What we know about today’s kids is that they are more at risk of developing pre-diabetes and cardiovascular disease than previous generations. This study gives multiple snapshots over time that provide more insight about grip strength and future risks for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Low grip strength could be used to predict cardiometabolic risk and to identify adolescents who would benefit from lifestyle changes to improve muscular fitness, says Paul M. Gordon, a professor at Baylor’s Robbins College of Health.
Students tracked in the study were assessed in the fall of their fourth-grade year and at the end of the fifth grade. Using the norms for grip strengths in boys and girls, researchers measured the students’ grips in their dominant and non-dominant hands with an instrument called a handgrip dynamometer.
Researchers found that initially, 27.9 percent of the boys and 20.1 percent of the girls were classified as weak. Over the course of the study, boys and girls with weak grips were more than three times as likely to decline in health or maintain poor health as those who were strong.
While much emphasis has been placed on the benefits of a nutritious diet and aerobic activity, this study suggests that greater emphasis needs to be placed on improving and maintaining muscular strength during adolescence.
Testing grip strength is simple, non-invasive and can easily be done. It has value for adults and children.
Last modified onMonday, 15 October 2018 21:05
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