Get a grip: Improve your grip strength and improve your health

Why you really need to improve your grip strength 

How often do you think you should improve your grip strength to help with your overall health? When you think about fitness and health, you probably think about your strength, cardiovascular capability, and maybe nutrition. When people are told they need to get healthier to lower their risk of serious health conditions, they usually start by adding in more exercise and working to eat more fruits, vegetables, and protein. There’s no shortage of programs that promise to deliver better flexibility, improved strength and mobility, and weight loss.

Those are important measures to focus on, but how many people also think about improving their grip strength? Grip strength is often overlooked when it comes to a focus on fitness, even though having the ability to grip with force and maintain that grip affects nearly everything you do, from better performance in most sports to opening jars and carting grocery bags with ease. But aside from those benefits, grip strength is also an indicator of risk of death from many serious diseases.

A prospective, population-based study published in 2018 in the British Medical Journal (The BMJ) found that lower grip strength was widely associated with adverse health outcomes. The study looked at data on more than 500,000 people, ages 40-69, and found those who had lower grip strength had higher rates of death from all causes, as well as higher rates of mortality from

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cancer, including colon, lung, and breast cancer

The study also found that improving grip strength by even a few pounds was associated with better health outcomes across the board. The reason for this is likely that lower grip strength is linked with lower muscle function, and many previous studies have found a strong association between strength and health outcomes.

What does this BMJ study on grip strength mean for you?

It means that whatever your reason for wanting to improve your fitness, whether you want to perform better in sports or start weightlifting, work on your pull-ups or chin ups, or advance in yoga, working to improve your grip strength will have many health benefits!

Get started today

Here are 4 exercises you can start doing to have better grip, better hand control, improved hand circulation, and better hand dexterity – all of which will translate to nearly everything you do day to day!

  1. Flex and extend – Hand flexion and extension (how wide you can open your hands and how tightly you can contract them) are an important part of overall hand health. You can start improving this by making a fist, squeezing as hard as you can, and holding that for several seconds, and finally extending your fingers as wide and long as possible. If you find you can’t comfortably make a fist and extend your hands, or you want controlled resistance as you contract and expand, try using the Constant Force X-tend for noticeable improvement.
  2. Pinching – Think about picking up something with your thumb and index finger and needing to hold it for an extended period. Your thumb will be working hard, but how do you strengthen your thumb and individual fingers? Many weightlifters will work on their pinch grip by holding weighted plates with just their fingers, but if you’ve had any kind of finger injury, or issues like arthritis or carpal tunnel, weighted plates might be too extreme to start with. You can work on your key pinch using the VariGrip Sport, and with the adjustable resistance, you can build strength gradually!
  3. Wrist curls and reverse wrist curls. Your grip strength isn’t just in your hands, it is also in your forearms! Do several sets of supported wrist curls with lightweight dumbbells to help build your forearm strength.
  4. Overall grip strength – If you’re looking for one grip strengthener that is ergonomic, portable, and fun to use, try the VariGrip Sport for a wide variety of exercises that will help you improve your grip strength.