Study: Weak muscles linked to earlier death, disability and illness

By Dr. Warren Willey
Columnist for the Journal

It is a well-established fact that low levels of muscular strength, as measured by hand grip strength devices, are linked to earlier death, disability, and illness. This was confirmed yet again in a very large study called the prospective urban rural epidemiology (PURE) study.

In it, investigators collected data on almost 140,000 adults in 17 different countries. Over the course of the study, the subjects’ hand strength was regularly tested. The data collected showed that every 5 kg decline in grip strength was associated with a 16 percent increase in risk of death from any cause and a 17 percent greater risk of cardiovascular death, particularly heart attack and stroke.

Studies that review longevity and quality of life also demonstrate the importance of muscular strength. Having followed grip strength in my clinic for years, I can certainly agree that overall muscular strength is an excellent measure of overall health. Improving or increasing muscular strength, as measured by hand grip strength devices, is easily accomplished through important lifestyle decisions. In my clinic I see many people in their 70s and 80s who increase their grip strength simply by improving their diets and daily exercise.

The attainment or maintenance of muscular strength can be realized with an adequate protein, low inflammatory, minimally processed diet, as well as a regular resistance training schedule or weight-lifting exercise program.

Dr. Warren Willey is the Medical Director of a hormone management and medical weight loss center in Southeast Idaho. A widely-published author and speaker, Willey is a Board Certified Osteopathic Physician and did his postgraduate training at The Mayo Clinic. For more on his work and background, visit

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