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
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.