Is grip strength a better predictor of heart health than blood pressure?

The Lancet medical journal, one of the most well known medical journals, published a thorough analysis on this very question. The study examined about 140,000 people and compared grip strength to Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack) risk. The surprising results suggested lack of grip strength was a significant indicator of elevated risk for heart attacks.

Does this mean you should go out and get a hand strengthening device?

No, there is no easy fix!  As always, data can often be misinterpreted to market or sell something.  Going out and getting a grip strengthening device is not going to help reduce your risk of a heart attack.  What should be suggested is that using your body in the way it was designed will decrease your risk.  If you go out and push, pull, climb, crawl, hang and any number of other activities that INCLUDE grip strength you will reduce your risk of heart disease.  

Do I ever recommend exercises for specific isolated function? 

Yes, because we often use our bodies in ways that they are not designed for, i.e. sitting or standing at a desk for long periods and often give exercises that help break up that monotony that are easy to do at work. This however should not take away from a more natural movement focus. If, for example, you are experiencing shoulder pain from sitting at a desk too long, we recommend exercises to help the shoulder blade rotate back and activate the stabilizer muscles to support a healthier posture.

The key to sustaining mobility is incorporating these movements into a daily routine. Use those stabilizer muscles if you’re doing a push-up or pull-up. Get out and move - go for a hike, take a yoga class, climb a tree – and you might just decrease your risk of heart attack while strengthening your grip, all while everything else is getting and staying better!

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