Get a grip!

The old adage that “you can tell a lot about a man by his hand­shake” has never been more apt. New re­search re­veals what your hand strength says about your mar­riage prospects and health

Destiny Man - - HEALTH SPY -

New re­search from the USA’s Columbia Univer­sity has found that men with a strong grip are more likely to be mar­ried than those with weaker ones. Pre­vi­ous re­search has found that grip strength is an es­tab­lished mea­sure of both psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal health, as it’s been linked to one’s abil­ity to cope in­de­pen­dently, while also pre­dict­ing the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases. Men with a stronger grip were found to have bet­ter over­all health, as well as a more ac­tive so­cial life and greater par­tic­i­pa­tion in men­tal pur­suits such as read­ing and puzzle-solv­ing.

Ve­gard Skir­bekk, from the Columbia Age­ing Cen­tre & Mail­man School, a pro­fes­sor of pop­u­la­tion and fam­ily health, says: “Our re­sults hint that women may be favour­ing part­ners who dis­play strength and vigour when they marry. If longer-lived women marry health­ier men, then they may both avoid or de­fer the role of care­giver, while less healthy men will have to look else­where for as­sis­tance.”

The group’s study tested over 5 000 adults in two suc­ces­sive groups – those born be­tween 1923-1935 and those born be­tween 1936-1948 – and as­sessed the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween re­spon­dents’ mar­i­tal sta­tus and grip strength. They then matched their find­ings with the Nor­we­gian na­tional death reg­istry.

The re­searchers found greater num­bers of un­mar­ried men with low grip strength in the sec­ond group (those born be­tween 1936-1948), cor­re­spond­ing with so­ci­etal trends which have in­creas­ingly de-em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of mar­riage. “In re­cent decades, women have be­come less de­pen­dent on men eco­nom­i­cally. At the same time, men have de­vel­oped a grow­ing ‘health de­pen­dence’ on women,” says Skir­bekk. “Many men who are alone with a weak grip face a dou­ble bur­den, as they lack strength and the sup­port that comes from be­ing mar­ried.”

In­ter­est­ingly, grip strength wasn’t a fac­tor in the mar­i­tal sta­tus of women.

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