Weakened Hand Grip is an Alarming Sign for Brain Health

Aging comes with physical challenges and simple tasks, like carrying a bag or opening a jar, can become tricky. That’s because, with age, our natural handgrip starts to lose its firmness. But there’s more to it than just getting older. According to doctors, handgrip strength can serve as an important indicator of several serious health conditions, especially related to brain functioning, including Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The Connection

Dr. Betsy Mills, assistant director of the Aging and Alzheimer’s Prevention team at the ADDF (Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation) has explained the connection between brain health and handgrip strength. According to her, several observational studies have revealed that overall handgrip strength is a crucial marker of brain health in the case of older adults As per the finding of the studies, reduced grip strength is connected to an increased risk of poor brain functioning, gradual cognitive decline, and eventual dementia.

The Study Findings

As Dr. Mills explained, handgrip strength has been used as a surrogate marker in these studies. This means, it itself is not directly linked to cognitive function but is closely associated with another factor that is connected to it. That additional factor is frailty, which is a way to measure the vulnerability of a person’s body to stressors like getting sick or falling. According to the study’s findings, poor handgrip strength is one of the most common physical characteristics of frailty, giving an alarming sign of eventual cognitive decline. It’s always best to consult with doctors and get the best possible medical advice if one is facing this problem. Dr. Mills assures that frailty is largely preventable, and in some cases, at least partially reversible.

Improving Hand Grip Strength

Dr. Mills suggests that to avoid the possibility of frailty, a person over 50 should consider three important lifestyle factors- exercise, variation in a workout routine, and a balanced and healthy diet. According to Dr. Mills, exercise is the best way to prevent frailty, as regular physical activities keep our bones and muscles strong, boosting the overall resiliency of the body, and the brain, as a result. But there should be a variation in your workout regime. As studies suggest, workouts with a variety of movements like balance work, aerobic conditioning, and resistance training, are most effective to prevent frailty. Secondly, a healthy diet is very important, as poor eating habits can act as stressors and may worsen symptoms of frailty. Foods with high fat and excessive sugar can easily offset the resiliency of our mundane physical activities.