Handshakes are vital to first impressions, but believe it or not, your handshake can say more about your health than you think. A study published by The Lancet tested the grip strength of roughly 140,000 adults (ages 35-70) from 17 countries by using a handgrip dynamometer—hand-held device that scores hand and forearm muscle strength.
Participants were contacted on an annual basis—for an average of four years—in order to determine whether they had suffered any of the outcomes researches reported on. The findings showed that for every 5kg decline in grip strength, there were the following:
- 17% increased risk of cardiovascular death
- 17% increased risk of a non-cardiovascular death
- 16% increased risk death from any cause
- 9% increased risk of having a stroke
- 7% increased risk of suffering from a heart attack
One thing to note was that other factors, such as age, education level, employment status, physical activity level, and tobacco and alcohol use, were also taken into account.
So, rather than stress, get a grip—let’s chat and chew about ways you can improve your grip and your handshake.
Use Hand Grippers: Using a hand gripper of your choice—check out these best sellers—start off with 2-4 sets of 8-10 reps with a lighter gripper and work your way up to a more challenging setting.
Try a tennis ball: Squeeze a tennis ball as hard as you can for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Recycle a vegetable band: While you can buy professional bands, try using the thick band that comes around your vegetables (i.e. broccoli), a thick rubber band, or one of those rubber bracelets people wear. Place a band around all 5 of your fingers (or a couple to start off) and extend your hand outward for a specific amount of reps, or hold for a certain amount of time.
Try sand. Using a bucket of sand, simply insert your hand with your fingers closed and then open your hand against the pressure of the sand.
Towel / Rope Pull-ups: Drape a towel (i.e. gym towel, dish towel, etc.) over a standard pull-up bar, grip both ends tightly—one in each hand, and perform your normal set of pull-ups. Don’t forget to watch your head as you get closer to the bar!
Now that you know the importance of your handshake for your health—and of course job interviews and first impressions—make sure you take time to work it out. If you have some helpful suggestions for how people can improve their grip strength, feel free to leave a comment below!