Get a Grip! Research Shows Importance of Maintaining Hand Strength in Older Adults
Opening a new bottle of pickles can be challenging for the strongest amongst us. But struggling to turn a tightly stuck lid can be particularly frustrating for older adults with diminished hand strength.
Maintaining a strong grip is important for sustaining one’s quality of life, studies show ,
which in turn can support healthy aging and better brain health.
Strong hands not only allow you to open jars, but also pour pitchers of lemonade, carry groceries, open heavy doors, and hold tight to railings as you go up and down stairs, among other things.
It’s never too late to get this crucial part of your body in its best shape possible. Grip strength and overall strength can be improved with some easy weight and resistance training, experts note .
Pharmacists may recommend their clients consider trying one of the many hand and grip exercises that can be found readily online.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, suggests a simple grip exercise to increase strength and decrease stiffness in your hands. It can be done while reading or watching TV, and requires only a racquetball, tennis ball, or “stress” ball. The exercise takes less than five minutes.
Simply grasp the ball in one hand while sitting or standing. Slowly squeeze it as hard as you can and hold the squeeze for 3 to 5 seconds. Slowly release the squeeze. Take a short rest, then repeat the exercise 10 times, according to the CDC guide. Switch hands and do two sets of 10 squeezes with the other hand.
The CDC says people may do this exercise every day or every other day, depending on how your hands feel. If they feel stiff or painful, you may want to skip a day, it adds.
Other exercises to consider include wringing out a wet washcloth; carrying a weighted bag or suitcase across the room; stretching wrists and fingers; placing a rubber band around your fingers and then spreading out fingers; and rotating wrists 90 degrees, with palm facing the ground and then facing the ceiling, while holding a hammer or similarly weighted object.