Why You Should Measure Your Hand Strength

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Hand grip strength is a fast, easy, inexpensive, and accurate predictor of just how well you are aging.

Why should you care about how strong your hands are? Well, for starters, don’t you want to pick up that cast iron pan your grandmother left you? Or, always be able to open a jar of peanut butter? Of course you do! Overall strength will help you do those things and more. But, on top of all that, your hand grip strength (HSG) will offer a very important glimpse into your future, beyond the jars of PB.

Here are the facts, straight up.

Your hand grip strength mirrors your body’s strength. You start to lose muscle mass as you get older — called sarcopenia — especially when you’ve gone through menopause. Sarcopenia is caused by many different factors including aging, illness, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, smoking, certain medications, and even heredity (but that is definitely not the main cause). Poor grip strength dovetails with depression, anxiety, falls, bone loss, and premature death, which is why it should be part of every annual physical exam, especially for menopausal and postmenopausal women.



Here’s what you need to do, ASAP.

  1. Get a baseline reading of your HSG by a physical therapist (or call your primary care physician’s office to find out where you can go to get tested).
  2. Consider investing in a dynamometer, which is easy to purchase and easy to use at home (here’s one). We highly recommend this so you can measure your progress once you embark on the recommended steps to improve your HSG. And, we really think that if you see your HSG reading with your very own eyes, it will motivate you to take action right now.
  3. Don’t smoke, eat enough protein, and embark on a strength-training program. We can’t stress enough how all roads lead to exercise. Walk, run, do push-ups, squats, the Plank. You’ll be stronger in no time.
  4. Take a tennis ball and squeeze it (without using your thumb) about 200 times a day. Do this while watching the latest installment of Succession or The Gilded Age.

We’d love to hear from you! Once you know your HGS, write it down. Then, start your program. Then, redo your reading. Write it down.

Author

  • The Menopause Cheat Sheet is a weekly newsletter focused on menopause and its impact on the long-term overall health and wellbeing of women over 40. It is created by Barbara Hannah Grufferman author (“Love Your Age” and “The Best of Everything After 50”) who focuses on successful aging, and Dr. Margaret Nachtigall, founding member of the North American Menopause Society, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Health, sought after speaker, and media expert on women’s health.

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