Health Secrets Your Handshake Reveals

Written by , Beauty & Lifestyle Enthusiast Chaitra Krishnan Beauty & Lifestyle Enthusiast Experience: 5 years
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You’ve probably heard that your body language says a lot about you. The intentional and unintentional actions and gestures of yours can make your personality an open book for those who are observant and educated enough on how to decode them. This is one of the main reasons why some of us put a lot of thought into the way we walk, talk, or even breathe, when we’re at an interview or when we’re under the spotlight. The way you shake your hands with someone is also believed to tell a lot about your personality including your level of confidence. But did you know that your handshake can also reveal many things about your health? We agree it’s a shocker and you might be finding it really hard to believe. But there are scientific studies to support this fact!

This, however, doesn’t mean that your doctor might be able to evaluate your health problems just by shaking your hands. It’s Science – not magic! So, how exactly are handshakes and human health connected? Let’s take a look at the details.

Overall Health And Grip Strength

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The association between a person’s health and their handshake is all about their grip strength. If you shake hands like a confident person with a firm grip, you may be on the safer side. But if your handshake is like that of a shy Bollywood heroine from the 60s trying to hold her lover’s hand, you’ve got a problem. Not only that people will find you drained out of confidence, but a weak handshake with a weak grip might hint an unhealthy body or mind. A study that was published in the British Medical Journal found that this, in fact, was true. It was conducted by scientists at the University of Glasgow who evaluated the health of half a million people who were between 40-69 years of age and their grip strength.

It was found that those who had weaker grip strength were at a higher risk of heart and lung diseases. The study also observed that these people were more likely to get affected by different types of cancer like breast, lung, and colorectal. Also, a higher risk of death due to these diseases was observed in the particular group of people. The younger the person with the weak grip strength, the higher are his/her chances to get affected by certain diseases (1).

Grip Strength And Brain Health

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According to another study that was based in the UK, grip strength can also be associated with cognitive performance. The data of 4,75,397 individuals were collected from the UK Biobank during the period between 2007 and 2010 for the purpose of the study. It was found that there was an independent relationship between grip strength and cognitive functions. The study also included another group of 1162 individuals who were separately evaluated from the first group of “general population.” These were individuals with schizophrenia. Even in this group, grip strength mattered when it came to cognitive functions, especially those related to processing speed and working memory (2).

“When taking multiple factors into account such as age, gender, bodyweight and education, our study confirms that people who are stronger do indeed tend to have better functioning brains,” said Dr. Joseph Firth, the co-author of the study. Dr. Firth is a research fellow at the NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester. “These sorts of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions,” he added (3).

These researches that establish a clear link between handgrip and the health of human beings (both physical and mental) open many new doors for further research in the field. Hopefully, in the future we can find ways to prevent the diseases associated with weaker grip strength by detecting their early onset. However, these goals are far ahead of us and might require years of research to come up with facts that can be put to practice in the medical field.

Healthy Body Signals Healthy Mind

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We’ve all heard the famous saying “a healthy mind is a healthy body.” The above studies are actually proof to this good old saying. So, does this mean that if we work on our handgrip and physical strength, we get a healthier body and mind? According to a 2015 study, reduced muscle strength is associated with the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. The scientists used a device called the “dynamometer” to measure the grip strength of about 140,000 adults from 17 countries. These individuals were followed up for a course of around four years. From the findings of the study, the researchers concluded that there was a close connection between grip strength and cardiovascular diseases and hinted that further research might help in evaluating if an improvement in muscular strength can bring down mortality and the risk of cardiovascular diseases (4).

The human body is indeed a work of brilliance and it’s quite amazing to know how something as simple as a regular handshake can say so much about one’s health condition. Did these finding fascinate you? Let us know about your views on this in the comments below.

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