Feeling Strong? Here's What Grip Strength Tells You About Your Health

By Amy Brownstein, October 24, 2023

woman cooking grip strengthYou may be familiar with the role that manual dexterity plays in helping conduct everyday activities. From buttoning your shirt to carrying groceries, fixing items around the house, or texting your friends and family, your hands are crucial to carrying out activities of daily living. But it turns out that there’s a hand-related measure that can provide significant healthspan insight. Hand grip strength is a proxy for whole body strength and can be used to help predict age-related diseases and mobility. 

Here, we discuss the significance of hand grip strength, how to measure it, and ways to improve this important health metric.

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Key takeaways:

  • Grip strength refers to how well and securely you can grasp an object. 
  • Grip strength is a proxy for muscle strength and can indicate overall health status. 
  • Genetics, nutrition, and physical activity all influence grip strength. Despite a genetic predisposition for weak grip strength, you can improve grip strength to maintain independence and mobility and live healthier longer. 
  • InsideTracker’s DNA insight looks at genetic markers that affect your potential for greater grip strength. Combined with blood data, you can understand how your current lifestyle may be affecting your genetic predisposition.

What is grip strength?

Grip strength is how much force you have when holding onto an object, or how well and how tightly you can grasp something. It is a simple and reliable test that approximates overall muscular strength. Grip strength is commonly referred to as a marker of aging—a weaker grip strength is often an early warning sign of several chronic conditions that affect aging and life expectancy. [1]


How is grip strength measured?

A dynamometer measures grip strength, testing muscle strength by gauging force. An individual tightly squeezes the dynamometer to measure grip strength. Dynamometers are inexpensive, convenient, and reliable. 

Grip strength varies based on sex and age. Males have greater grip strength than females, and grip strength declines with age across both sexes. Grip strength for women ranges from: [2]

  • Ages 20-30: 57-71 lbs (26-32 kg)
  • Ages 30-40: 54-64 lbs (25-29 kg)
  • Ages 40-50: 48-60 lbs (22-27 kg)
  • Ages 50-60: 43-54 lbs (20-25 kg)
  • Ages 60-80: 37-49 lbs (17-22 kg)

Grip strength for men ranges from:

  • Ages 20-30: 105-121 lbs (48-55 kg)
  • Ages 30-40: 99-114 lbs (45-52 kg)
  • Ages 40-50: 93-107 lbs (42-49 kg)
  • Ages 50-60: 85-99 lbs (39-45 kg)

What can grip strength tell me about my health?

Grip strength can serve as an indicator of overall health, including bone density, risk of falls and fractures, depression, and quality of life. This measure not only helps predict chronic disease risk—such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, sarcopenia, hypertension, and mortality—but also reflects mobility and balance, key components of longevity. [3-5] 

In healthy adults, grip strength correlates with functional limitations and disability later in life. [6] Weak grip strength indicates a worsening ability to complete activities of daily living, resulting in a loss of independence, muscle strength, and physical performance. [7] Preserving quality of life, independence, and mobility are essential for living longer in good health. 

Inflammation contributes to poor hand grip strength

Chronic inflammation is linked to muscle mass loss and an increased risk of chronic conditions. And higher levels of inflammatory molecules (like C-reactive protein) are associated with weaker grip strength. [8] There are also links to cognitive health—weak hand grip strength indicates an increased risk of dementia in both males and females. In particular, weak grip strength is associated with aspects of memory and intelligence, proxies for overall cognition. [9,10]

Grip strength predicts risk of type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Lower muscle mass and grip strength are associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), two chronic diseases affiliated with aging and body composition. [11] Taken with grip strength, physical activity intensity may also have a profound impact on type 2 diabetes risk. One study of more than 500,000 participants found that those who were slow walkers with weak grip strength had a 64% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes than brisk walkers with strong grip strength. [12] 


The genetic basis of grip strength

Genome-wide association studies have shown grip strength to be highly heritable, and have identified multiple genetic variants linked with hand grip strength—genes associated with the structure, function, and communication in both muscle fibers and neurons. [13]

InsideTracker’s genetic risk score for grip strength looks at genetic markers that affect your potential for greater grip strength. Those with a reduced potential for greater grip strength may need to work harder to maintain a healthy level of muscle strength as they age. This video further explains grip strength in relation to healthspan and InsideTracker's genetic insight:


Certain biomarkers correlate with grip strength 

In addition to genetic markers, biomarkers measured in the blood are associated with grip strength.

  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency appears linked to low hand grip strength due to the vitamin’s effect on muscle strength and function. Moreover, vitamin D may be associated with frailty, as levels decrease with aging and muscle mass loss. [1,14] 
  • Testosterone: Muscle mass, strength, and physical performance are associated with testosterone levels, and low testosterone can impact these metrics. One study of more than 7,000 men observed that higher testosterone levels were associated with greater grip strength in younger and healthier men. And people with more testosterone had a lower risk of reduced muscle strength. [15]
  • Cortisol: Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol contribute to the breakdown of muscle mass and can lead to reduced strength and sarcopenia. [16] 

Your genetic indication for grip strength provides insight into your potential. Taken with blood biomarkers which reflect your current state of health, you can understand whether your present lifestyle factors are positively or negatively impacting your genetic predisposition.


Ways to improve grip strength

Grip strength declines by an average of 0.06 kilograms (0.13 pounds) per year through age 50, then reduces by 0.37 kilograms (0.8 pounds) per year after that. [17] Despite this, it is possible to improve grip strength—and it’s never too late to start improving overall body strength. 

Consult your doctor or primary care physician to determine whether physical activity or supplements will be safe and effective for you.

Resistance training

One of the best ways to increase overall strength is by incorporating strength training into your physical activity routine. One meta-analysis of more than 1,000 older adults found that engaging in resistance training for at least 30 minutes two to three times per week (similar to the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines) increased grip strength by an average of 0.64 kilograms (1.4 pounds). [18] While strength training alone may be effective, a multi-component exercise program that includes aerobic, strength, and balance training may be even more conducive to improving hand grip strength. [19] 

Hand-strengthening exercises

For those who have established resistance training as part of their training regimens, there are specific exercises that engage the muscles in your hands and forearms to help improve grip strength. 

  • Hand clench: This exercise supports grip and forearm strength. Place your arm at a 90-degree angle and squeeze a tennis ball with your hand. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then release. Repeat at least 10 times. 
  • Dead hang: This exercise strengthens your ability to hold something. Grab onto a pull-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your palms facing forward. Lift your legs off the ground (or pull yourself up if you’re more advanced) and keep your arms straight. Hang for as long as possible.


A healthy diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and fatty fish may contribute to higher grip strength. In particular, regularly eating fatty fish like salmon and tuna is associated with increased grip strength. These fish contain vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients associated with grip strength and muscle mass, function, and strength. [20] 


How to use grip strength to improve your health

Grip strength is an easily measurable and useful indicator of body strength and overall health. While it's worthwhile to know your actual hand grip strength using a tool like a dynamometer, there's also significant benefit to understanding your genetic predispositions—and whether lifestyle factors may be helping or hindering your potential.

Using DNA, blood biomarker data, and physiodata from wearable devices, InsideTracker provides personalized recommendations to help you prioritize and implement the lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition habits that matter most for your healthspan.




  1. https://www.ncbi.nlmd.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8273729/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26196662/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32706848/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6778477/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25982160/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21035927/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31788969/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32992047
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35737388/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35013908/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35085594/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35612725/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29313844/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37524600/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31267800/
  16. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/107/4/e1477/6445183?login=false
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7105185/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32765951/
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32466446/
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18005355/

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