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Why Strength Matters–Part 2


Last month we learned how as we age limitations in mobility-related tasks will become more common.10 One more important predictor of limited mobility or functional limitation is muscle strength – more specifically your grip strength.12-13 Loss of grip strength is strongly associated with increasing chronological age14 but, independent of this relationship, it appears to be a powerful predictor of disability, frailty, morbidity, and mortality.15   Lower grip strength is associated with incident as well as prevalent disability, suggesting  that age-related loss of muscle mass and volitional muscle strength can be a cause as well as a consequence of physical disability.12-13,16 Studies looking at the influence of grip strength on morbidity have focused on musculoskeletal disorders. For example, higher muscle strength is related to increased bone mass and lower risk of fracture.17-18  However, the most striking association is with future mortality. Incredibly, grip strength in mid-life19 and later years20 predicts long-term survival and a greater likelihood of functional limitations.15  Don’t worry, losses in muscle strength with age is not the sole determinant of the loss of physical function, as there are numerous conditions that can dramatically impair physical function– poor cardiovascular fitness, cognitive deficits, and poor pulmonary function to name a few.
Hopefully,  I’ve got your attention and you are realizing that maintaining your strength as you get older is of crucial importance. How do you maintain strength? Through STRENGTH TRAINING!  In case you’ve just thought about not ready further, here’s another statistic:

1) Falls are the LEADING cause of injury among older adults
2) Falls are treated in ER’s EVERY 13 seconds, claiming a life EVERY 20 minutes.11
3) 1/3 of hip fractures due to a fall do not recover. (See claiming a life above)

These are important statistics because every year, 1 out of 3 older adults fall yet less than half tell their doctor.11  So you may have guessed it.  Grip strength will now be a part of your fitness testing at Lifewellness. This isn’t something you can prepare but you can still practice push-ups the week before!  If you are still wrestling with the fact that you need to include strength training, ask yourself 2 questions:

1) Will the training/goals I set now benefit me when I’m 80?
2) Do I want to be able to tie my shoes, get dressed, and walk up stairs easily?
If you answered ‘yes’ to either of them, you’re going to need to start strength training.

For help on adding strength training into your busy life, call Lifewellness to schedule an appointment with Meghan. Not only will you get tips on how to squeeze strength training into your current routine, but more importantly, Meghan will tailor exercises to your specific needs to keep you strong and healthy.


Colby SL, Ortman JM. Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060, Current Population Reports, P25-1143, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2014.
Ward BW, Schiller JS, Goodman RA. Multiple Chronic Conditions Among US Adults: A 2012 Update. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014. Doi: 11:130389.
Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being. Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. June 2012.
National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2014: With Special Feature on Adults Aged 55–64. Hyattsville, MD. 2015.
Manini, T., Clark, B. Dynapenia and Aging: An Update: Special Issue on Muscle Function and Sarcopenia. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2012 Jan;67(1): 28-40. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr010.
Statistics FIFo A-R. Older Americans 2008: Key Indicators of Well-being; Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office; 2008.
Cesari, M., Pahor, M., Larentani, R., et al. Skeletal muscle and mortality results from the InCHIANTI Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2009;64:377-384.
Newman, A., Kupelian, V., Visser, M., et al. Strength, but not muscle mass, is associated with mortality in health, aging, and body composition study cohort. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006;61:72-77.
Muscaritoli, M., Bossla M., Bellantone, R. et al. Therapy of muscle wasting in cancer: What is the future? Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004;7:459-466.
Sallinen, J., Stenholm, S., Tantanen, T., et al. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010;58(9):1721-1726. Doi:10.1111/j..1532-5415.2010.03035.x.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Control and Prevention [Internet]. Take a stand on falls. Atlanta: CDC; 2015 [cited 2016 April 12]. Available from:
Giampaoli, S. Ferrucci, L., Cecchi, F., et al. Hand-grip strength predicts incident disability in non-disabled older men. Age Ageing. 1999;28:283.288.
Rantanen, T., Guralnik, JM, Foley, D., et al. Midlife hand grip strength as a predictor of old age disability. JAMA. 1999;281:558-560.
Bohannon, R. Hand-grip dynamometry predicts future outcomes in aging adults. J AM Geriatr Therapy. 2001;31:3-10. doi: 10.1519/00139143-2000831010-00002.
Klein, B., Klein, R., Knudtson, M., Lee. L. Frailty, morbidity and survival. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2005;41:141-149.
Hughes, S., Gibbs, J., Dunlop, D., et. al. Predictors of decline in manual performance in older adults. J Am Geriatr. Soc. 1997;45: 905-10.
Taaffe, D., Cauley, J., Danielson, M., et al. Race and sex effects on the association between muscle strength, soft tissue, and bone mineral density in healthy elders: the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study. J Bone Miner Res. 2001;16:1343-52.
Hughes, V., Frontera, W., Dallal, D., et al. Muscle strength and body composition: associations with bone density in older subjects. Med Sci Sport Exerc. 1995;27:967-74.
Rantanen, T., Harris, T., Leveille, S., et al. Muscle strength and body mass index as long-term predictors of mortality in initially healthy men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000;55:M168-73.
Laukkanen, P, Heikkinen, E., Kauppinen, M. Muscle strength and mobility as predictors of survival in 75-84 year-old people. Age Ageing. 1995;24:468-73.

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