Recent Blog Articles

Healthy Aging

Give grip strength a hand

November 09, 2016

Your ability to grab, hold, twist , and squeeze is essential for many everyday functions.

hand grip
Image: JannHuizenga/Thinkstock

Think how much you rely on a strong grip every day. It helps you open cans, grip a golf club, hold a steering wheel, brush your teeth, and pick up a grandchild. "The ability to stay active and independent often begins with our hands," says Maria Cole, a physical therapist with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Outpatient Center. "Weak grip strength can limit your enjoyment of many life pleasures, so you need to ensure your hand and grip strength always are up to the task."

A measure of health

A grip on mobility

Grip strength also may predict your future loss of mobility. A May 2014 study in The Journal of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences analyzed data from more than 20,000 adults ages 65 and older to evaluate the link between weak grip strength and lack of mobility, in this case slow walking speed.

Among the men in the group, those with a weak grip—less than 26 kg using a dynamometer—were seven times more likely to be facing mobility issues compared with men who had normal grip strength.

You can take steps to improve grip strength and possibly avoid problems down the road. "You need to exercise your hands and wrists just like every other part of your body to keep them strong and supple," says Cole.

Exercise your hands

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.