Have you ever thought about the connection between your physical and mental health? One small aspect of our physical health can majorly impact our mental well-being: grip strength. Yes, you read that right! The strength of your grip can offer valuable insights into your overall health.
The amount of force an individual can produce in gripping an object is a simple yet powerful measure of our health, and it is correlated with numerous physical and mental health outcomes. In this article, we’ll explore how improving grip strength can unlock a stronger mind-body connection and enhance both physical and mental wellness. So, let’s get a grip on what it takes to achieve optimal health!
The Link between Physical and Mental Health with Grip Strength:
We tend to feel better mentally and emotionally when our bodies are physically healthy. Conversely, when we’re dealing with physical health issues, it can take charge of our mental well-being. This is why it’s so essential to maintain a healthy balance between our physical and mental health.
One way to help keep our physical and mental health in check is by paying attention to our grip strength. Our grip strength is a good indicator of our overall physical health and has also been linked to various mental health benefits. For example, studies have shown that people with stronger grips are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. They also tend to have better memory function and cognitive abilities (Wang et al., 2022).
Lower Grip Strength and Chronic Diseases:
Hand grip strength has been used in various studies to assess cardiovascular health, mortality rates, general quality of life, and cognition. Grip strength is an easy, low-cost measurement with strong clinical and prognostic value for chronic diseases and mortality. Here are some of the key findings:
- Depression and Anxiety: In some studies, weaker grip strength has been found to be associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety in adults, particularly in participants aged 85 years; low handgrip strength was correlated with poorer scores in functional, psychological, and social health domains (Kwak et al 2022).
- Cognitive Function: Grip strength positively correlates with cognitive function, including memory, attention, and processing speed. Lower grip strength is linked with higher risk of onset of cognitive decline and dementia despite of subtype of dementia (Mengzhao et al., 2021)
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM): A 2021 cohort study in the UK from Boonpor et al. suggested that low grip strength is associated with a higher incidence rate of T2DM in both men and women, independent of major confounding factors. Therefore, grip strength may be a practical approach to identifying people who are at high risk of developing T2DM.
- Stress and Resilience: Higher grip strength has been associated with greater stress resilience in both men and women. Stress, which tends to be elevated in older adults with illnesses and limitations in ADLs, is an important indicator of progression to depression. Because of the close association between physical and mental health, careful evaluation and active application of nursing interventions are needed to protect the mental health of older adults who have difficulties with physical activity (Kwak & Kim, 2022).
- Disability: Handgrip strength is a convent measure of strength capacity and is associated with several age-related health conditions. Weaker grip strength is associated with a higher risk of disability and functional limitations, particularly in older adults (Collins et al., 2020).
Improving Grip Strength: Tips and Strategies:
There are many ways to improve grip strength, and doing so can positively impact your overall health and well-being.
- Use a Grip Strengthener: A grip strengthener is a simple device that you can use to exercise your hand and improve your grip strength. Hand grippers are devices you squeeze with your hand to increase the force your hand can exert. They come in various sizes, and you can use them to increase the force you can exert gradually.
- Do Hand Exercises: You can do many different exercises to target the muscles in your hands and improve your grip strength. You can also improve grip strength by doing activities that specifically target the muscles in your hands and forearms. These exercises include gripping a tennis ball or other small object tightly for several seconds or doing wrist curls with dumbbells. By consistently working on improving grip strength, you can intensify not only your physical health but your mental health too.
- Use Proper Lifting Techniques: When lifting weights or performing other activities requiring gripping, use the proper technique i.e. neutral wrist, dont let wrist flex or slack. It will help in preventing injury. Lifting weights will help you build muscle, and the added strength will help you generate more force when you squeeze an object. Following these tips can maintain good grip strength and improve your physical and mental health.
Squegg; An Equipment to Support Mental Health Through Physical Health:
Grip strength can be enhanced with the help of grip-strengthening exercises performed at home using little tools/equipment. Squegg’s ball device is an intelligent way to exercise and train the grip designed to target and improve the strength of your hand and forearm muscles. The Bluetooth-enabled device can efficiently train the grip and boost physical and mental fitness. By squeezing the device or performing specific exercises, you engage the muscles in your hand, wrist, and forearm, increasing strength and endurance. The device’s simple configuration with its smartphone app helps the user incorporate fun games and exercises to improve grip strength. The users can start squeezing as one of the simplest forms of exercise to build grip strength.
In conclusion, grip strength is a simple yet powerful measure of overall health, linking physical and mental well-being. Whether you are an athlete or someone who is looking to improve overall health and well-being, grip strength can serve as a helpful indicator and motivator for achieving your goals. Incorporating grip strength exercises, tools, and other healthy lifestyle practices into your daily routine can unlock the connection between physical and mental health and help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.
- Boonpor, J., Parra-Soto, S., Petermann-Rocha, F., Ferrari, G., Welsh, P., Pell, J. P., Sattar, N., Gill, J. M., Ho, F. K., Gray, S. R., & Celis-Morales, C. (2021). Associations between grip strength and incident type 2 diabetes: Findings from the UK biobank prospective cohort study. BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjdrc-2020-001865.
- Celis-Morales, C. A., Welsh, P., Lyall, D. M., Steell, L., Petermann, F., Anderson, J., Iliodromiti, S., Sillars, A., Graham, N., Mackay, D. F., Pell, J. P., Gill, J. M., Sattar, N., & Gray, S. R. (2018). Associations of grip strength with cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer outcomes and all cause mortality: Prospective cohort study of half a million UK Biobank participants. BMJ. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1651.
- Collins, K., Johnson, N., Klawitter, L., Waldera, R., Stastny, S., Kraemer, W. J., Christensen, B., & McGrath, R. (2020). Handgrip strength asymmetry and weakness are differentially associated with functional limitations in older Americans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(9), 3231. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093231.
- Kwak, Y., & Kim, Y. (2022). Mental health and Handgrip strength among older adults: A nationwide study. INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, 59, 004695802110674. https://doi.org/10.1177/00469580211067481.
- Cui, M., Zhang, S., Liu, Y., Gang, X., & Wang, G. (2021). Grip Strength and the Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Cohort Studies. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2021.625551
- Wang, J., Zhou, X., Qiu, S., Deng, L., Li, J., Yang, L., Wei, Q., & Dong, B. (2022). The association between grip strength and depression among adults aged 60 years and older: A large-scaled population-based study from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2022.937087.