Feeling Strong? Here's What Grip Strength Tells You About Your Health

Don't underestimate the power of your squeeze. Grip strength is a window into your overall health, and you can improve it for a stronger, healthier you

Amy Brownstein
By Amy Brownstein
Caitlin Snethlage
Edited by Caitlin Snethlage

Published April 16, 2024.

A woman stirring a pot of food on a stove.

Imagine going about your day. You reach for a mug of coffee, open a jar of pickles, or maybe shake someone’s hand. These seemingly simple tasks all require grip strength. But have you ever stopped to wonder how yours measures up?

It goes beyond convenience—grip strength is a window into your overall well-being. This simple measure can predict age-related diseases and even future mobility. That's why this time, we're exploring the importance, measuring, and ways to improve this vital health metric.

Key takeaways

  • Grip strength refers to how well and securely you can grasp an object. It's a proxy for muscle strength and can indicate overall health status.
  • Genetics, nutrition, and physical activity all influence it. Despite a genetic predisposition for weak grip strength, you can maintain independence and mobility to live healthier, longer. 
  • InsideTracker’s DNA insight looks at genetic markers that affect the potential to improve your grip strength. Combined with blood data, it can help you understand how your current lifestyle may be affecting your predisposition.

What is grip strength?

Grip strength is the level of force you exert when holding onto an object. It shows how tightly you can grasp something, which is a reliable test of overall muscle power.

It's also a common marker of aging—a weaker grip strength is often an early warning sign of several chronic conditions that impact aging and life expectancy. [1]

You measure grip strength by tightly squeezing a dynamometer. The force exerted varies based on sex and age, with males producing more power than females. It also gradually declines with age across both sexes. [2]

Average grip strength by age and sex

20–3057–71 lbs (26–32 kg)105–21 lbs (48–55 kg)
30–4054–64 lbs (25–29 kg)99–114 lbs (45–52 kg)
40–5048–60 lbs (22–27 kg)93–107 lbs (42–49 kg)
50–6043–54 lbs (20–25 kg)85–99 lbs (39–45 kg)
60–8037–49 lbs (17–22 kg)37–49 lbs (17–22 kg)
a man holding a game controller in his hand

How grip strength impacts your health

Grip strength might seem like a simple measure of hand power, but it's a surprisingly insightful indicator of your overall health. Research suggests that people who exert less force may have an increased risk of developing chronic conditions, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Sarcopenia (muscle loss)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) [3–5]
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) [6]

Note: One study of more than 500,000 participants also found that slow walkers with weak grip strength had a 64% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. [7]

Mobility and longevity

Multiple studies link grip strength to better balance and mobility, which is essential for staying active and independent as you age. [3–5] On the other hand, others show that it correlates with functional limitations later in life, such as joint pain. [8]

Functional ability

A weak grip makes simple activities like opening jars, dressing, carrying groceries, or using tools challenging. This decline in functional ability can lead less independence and a decreased quality of life. [9]

For example, limited mobility makes it harder to get out and socialize. This type of isolation leads to feelings of loneliness, depression, and a decline in overall well-being.


Persistent inflammation reflected by high CRP levels can damage tissue and hinder muscle protein synthesis. [10] This breakdown leads to a decrease in strength all over the body, including the muscles in your hands and forearms.

Cognitive health

Recent studies suggest a link between weaker grip strength and an increased risk of dementia in both men and women.

This association may be due to its potential role as a marker of overall physical health. Multiple studies also link it to lower muscle mass, which leads to poorer cognitive function. The effect includes aspects of memory and information processing speed. [11,12]

Grip strength and genetics

While grip strength is a valuable health indicator, it's not entirely related to lifestyle choices. Numerous studies suggest a strong link to genetics. Your DNA may affect the structure, function, and communication within muscle fibers and neurons. [13]

Note: You can understand how lifestyle factors impact your genetic predisposition with InsideTracker's DNA kit. You get a report with the precise risk and potential percentiles for 10 healthspan-related genetic scores.

In addition to genetic, the following blood biomarkers relate to grip strength:

  • Vitamin D: There's a link between vitamin D deficiency and hand grip due to the its effect on muscle strength and function. Plus, it's and indicator of frailty, decreasing with age. [1,14] 
  • Testosterone: Low levels of this hormone impact muscle mass and physical performance. A study of more than 7,000 men found higher testosterone was associated with greater grip strength those who were younger and healthier. [15]
  • Cortisol: Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol contribute to muscle mass breakdown. The effect can lead to reduced strength and sarcopenia. [16] 

How to improve grip strength

Grip strength declines by an average of 0.06 kilograms (0.13 pounds) yearly until age 50. After this age, it reduces by 0.37 kilograms (0.8 pounds) each year. [17] It's possible to improve along with your overall body strength despite this fact.

Dietary changes

A healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains may strengthen your grip. Regularly eating salmon and tuna can also help. These fatty fish contain vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids—nutrients associated with muscle mass. [18] 

Resistance training

One meta-analysis of more than 1,000 older adults found that doing resistance training increased grip strength by an average of 0.64 kilograms (1.4 pounds). [19] The participants who worked out for at least 30 minutes, two to three times per week had positive results.

While strength training is practical, a multi-component exercise program that combines it with aerobic and balance workouts may be even more suited for improving hand grip strength. [20] 

Tip: You can try farmer's walks to improve your grip strength. Grab a pair of dumbbells—or full grocery bags—and walk for a set distance. Ensure they're heavy enough to feel challenging, but be careful not to overdo it.

Hand-strengthening exercises

There are specific resistance exercises that engage the muscles in your and forearms, such as:

  • Hand clench: Place your arm at a 90-degree angle and squeeze a tennis ball with your hand. Hold for five to ten seconds, then release. Repeat at least ten times. 
  • Dead hang: Grab onto a pull-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing forward. Lift your legs off the ground and keep your arms straight. Hang for as long as possible.
  • Grip strengtheners: Hand grippers are designed to target and improve grip strength. They come in various resistance levels, letting you progress gradually.
  • Rock climbing: This is a fun and functional way to build grip strength. Unlike repetitive exercises, climbing engages multiple muscle groups while requiring you to constantly adjust your grip and problem-solve your way up the wall.
a woman wearing a blue helmet is climbing

Strengthen your grip, strengthen your health

Grip strength is a window into your overall health. It reflects total body muscle mass and function. Weakness in this regard can be a sign of underlying health issue.

InsideTracker integrates blood biomarker data and readings from wearable devices to create a holistic picture. This comprehensive approach considers how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and sleep interact with your genes, influencing your current grip strength and future potential.

The good news is that you can improve grip strength through exercise and proper nutrition, regardless of your age or genetics. So, squeeze a stress ball, shake someone's hand with confidence, and take control of your health by strengthening your grip.

Disclaimer: InsideTracker doesn't diagnose or treat medical conditions. Consult your physician if you have any health concerns.


[1] S. Y. Lee, “Handgrip strength: an irreplaceable indicator of muscle function,” Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 167–169, Jun. 2021, doi: 10.5535/arm.21106. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8273729/

[2] F. M. Perna et al., “Muscular grip strength estimates of the U.S. population from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011–2012,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 867–874, Mar. 2016, doi: 10.1519/jsc.0000000000001104. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26196662/

[3] E. Lunt, T. Ong, A. L. Gordon, P. L. Greenhaff, and J. Gladman, “The clinical usefulness of muscle mass and strength measures in older people: a systematic review,” Age And Ageing, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 88–95, Jul. 2020, doi: 10.1093/ageing/afaa123. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32706848/

[4] R. W. Bohannon, “Grip Strength: An Indispensable Biomarker For Older Adults,” Clinical Interventions in Aging, vol. Volume 14, pp. 1681–1691, Oct. 2019, doi: 10.2147/cia.s194543. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6778477/

[5] D. P. Leong et al., “Prognostic value of grip strength: findings from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study,” Lancet, vol. 386, no. 9990, pp. 266–273, Jul. 2015, doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(14)62000-6. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25982160/

[6] F. Petermann‐Rocha et al., “Associations of muscle mass and grip strength with severe NAFLD: A prospective study of 333,295 UK Biobank participants,” Journal of Hepatology (Print), vol. 76, no. 5, pp. 1021–1029, May 2022, doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2022.01.010. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35085594/

[7] J. Boonpor, S. Parra‐Soto, F. Petermann‐Rocha, F. K. Ho, C. Celis‐Morales, and S. R. Gray, “Combined association of walking pace and grip strength with incident type 2 diabetes,” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, vol. 32, no. 9, pp. 1356–1365, Jun. 2022, doi: 10.1111/sms.14197. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35612725/

[8] K. Norman, N. Stobäus, M. C. Gonzalez, J. Schulzke, and M. Pirlich, “Hand grip strength: Outcome predictor and marker of nutritional status,” Clinical Nutrition, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 135–142, Apr. 2011, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2010.09.010. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21035927/

[9] D. X. M. Wang, J. Yao, Y. Zirek, E. M. Reijnierse, and A. B. Maier, “Muscle mass, strength, and physical performance predicting activities of daily living: a meta‐analysis,” Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 3–25, Dec. 2019, doi: 10.1002/jcsm.12502. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31788969/

[10] C. Tuttle, L. a. N. Thang, and A. B. Maier, “Markers of inflammation and their association with muscle strength and mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 64, p. 101185, Dec. 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2020.101185. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32992047/

[11] K. Duchowny et al., “Associations between handgrip strength and dementia risk, cognition, and Neuroimaging Outcomes in the UK Biobank Cohort study,” JAMA Network Open, vol. 5, no. 6, p. e2218314, Jun. 2022, doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.18314. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35737388/

[12] S. K. Kunutsor, N. M. Isiozor, A. Voutilainen, and J. A. Laukkanen, “Handgrip strength and risk of cognitive outcomes: new prospective study and meta-analysis of 16 observational cohort studies,” GeroScience, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 2007–2024, Jan. 2022, doi: 10.1007/s11357-022-00514-6. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35013908/

[13] S. M. Willems et al., “Large-scale GWAS identifies multiple loci for hand grip strength providing biological insights into muscular fitness,” Nature Communications, vol. 8, no. 1, Jul. 2017, doi: 10.1038/ncomms16015. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29313844/

[14] “Vitamin D Levels in Pre-frail Older Adults and Its Correlation with Hand Grip Strength,” PubMed, Apr. 01, 2023. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37524600/ Avaible: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37524600/

[15] H.-T. Chiu, M.-T. Shih, and W. Chen, “Examining the association between grip strength and testosterone,” Aging Male/˜the œAging Male, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 915–922, Jul. 2019, doi: 10.1080/13685538.2019.1632282. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31267800/

[16] S. Katsuhara et al., “Impact of cortisol on reduction in muscle strength and mass: a Mendelian randomization study,” ˜the œJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism/Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, vol. 107, no. 4, pp. e1477–e1487, Nov. 2021, doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab862. Available: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/107/4/e1477/6445183?login=false

[17] K. G. M. Beenakker et al., “Patterns of muscle strength loss with age in the general population and patients with a chronic inflammatory state,” Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 431–436, Oct. 2010, doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.05.005. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7105185/

[18] S. Robinson et al., “Diet and Its Relationship with Grip Strength in Community‐Dwelling Older Men and Women: The Hertfordshire Cohort Study,” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, vol. 56, no. 1, pp. 84–90, Nov. 2007, doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01478.x. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18005355/

[19] W. Bao et al., “Exercise Programs for Muscle Mass, Muscle Strength and Physical Performance in Older Adults with Sarcopenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Aging and Disease, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 863, Jan. 2020, doi: 10.14336/ad.2019.1012. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32765951/

[20] U. Sadjapong, S. Yodkeeree, S. Sungkarat, and P. Siviroj, “Multicomponent exercise program reduces frailty and inflammatory biomarkers and improves physical performance in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: a randomized controlled trial,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health/International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 11, p. 3760, May 2020, doi: 10.3390/ijerph17113760. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32466446/