OT - Handgrip strenth = overall physical and mental health

Handgrip strength is a widely used and well-validated measure of overall health that is increasingly understood to index risk for psychiatric illness and neurodegeneration in older adults. However, existing work has not examined how grip strength relates to a comprehensive set of mental health outcomes, which can detect early signs of cognitive decline. Furthermore, whether brain structure mediates associations between grip strength and cognition remains unknown.

Based on cross-sectional and longitudinal data from over 40,000 participants in the UK Biobank, this study investigated the behavioral and neural correlates of handgrip strength using a linear mixed effect model and mediation analysis.

In cross-sectional analysis, we found that greater grip strength was associated with better cognitive functioning, higher life satisfaction, greater subjective well-being, and reduced depression and anxiety symptoms while controlling for numerous demographic, anthropometric, and socioeconomic confounders. Further, grip strength of females showed stronger associations with most behavioral outcomes than males. In longitudinal analysis, baseline grip strength was related to cognitive performance at ~9 years follow-up, while the reverse effect was much weaker. Further, baseline neuroticism, health, and financial satisfaction were longitudinally associated with subsequent grip strength. The results revealed widespread associations between stronger grip strength and increased grey matter volume, especially in subcortical regions and temporal cortices. Moreover, grey matter volume of these regions also correlated with better mental health and considerably mediated their relationship with grip strength.

Overall, using the largest population-scale neuroimaging dataset currently available, our findings provide the most well-powered characterization of interplay between grip strength, mental health, and brain structure, which may facilitate the discovery of possible interventions to mitigate cognitive decline during aging.


Another tail chasing life science / “the data says”, bohunk article. No useful results. They have no idea where any of this is coming from. Do people with the “proper brain” experience better grip strength? Does the rest of us jack diddley. Or can people who are figuratively “losing their grip” increase their grip strength and subsequently “get a grip”?

I remember reading of these grip / cognition observations way back in the 1990’s. When my 88 yr old mother was fading physically but still knew all the essentials a person needs to know, I noticed her hand grip was almost suspiciously strong for a proverbial “little old lady” in a nursing home. It reminded me of the articles about grip strength vs dementia I read 25 yrs earlier.

I guess they’re not making much progress. This article could have been a 1996 reprint.


I have a personal anecdote about this. The person with the strongest grip I’ve ever met was not someone at the gym, and it was not some big burly guy with muscles everywhere. It was my grandfather, a slight and kindly old man, who never stepped foot into a gym in his life. He also wasn’t a worker who did heavy labor or anything like. But he was a “cutter” in the NY garment district for most of his later adult life. And the grip of his right hand was so strong that had he wanted to, he could very likely crush anyone’s hand even to the point of breaking bones. Even during his last 5 years, during a slow physical and mental decline (dementia), his right hand grip remained quite strong. Much stronger than anyone would expect from looking at him.

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Have a brother who has an outdoor wood furnace, so on every colder day of the year is handling wood. I’ve helped him out in the Fall, building up his stock pile of wood, using a log splitter. He picks up the split logs, 1 in each hand and stacks them. I can do that for about an hour, and then the my hand and forearms start to cramp up. I resort to carrying 1 on top of the other, but that adds an extra step, so he does more work than me ( lol, I’m free labor, so I don’t feel bad about it ). I am much fitter than my brother in most every way, do push ups, pullups, dips, squats, lunges, and other body weight exercises to get stronger for a couple of my hobbies, but he is much stronger grip-wise than me, and anybody else I’ve seen. I would not want to tangle with him, lol, if he got his hands on me I’d be in trouble. ( that would never happen, get along good with all family members )


We die when out bodies are exhausted or when we have some medical problem. He probably lived longer and mentally acute because of his strong grip.

My oldest brother was long time mechanic at a CAT tractor plant for ages, one of the things he did as a test was to test your grip when shaking hands, so once prepped, I could match him, but I think it began either in his Navy days, or later at CAT, a friendly test of grips, as most were doing wrenching their whole lives, forearm strength was up, but then again, maybe it was all the spicy we ate as kids, just like Popeye! :slight_smile:

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