Scientists are constantly finding ways to measure your health, but this one is definitely unusual!
According to a large study of 140,000 adults in 17 different countries, the strength of your grip can be used to measure your cardiac health—including risk for heart disease, stroke, and early death. In fact, this method has been found to be a better predictor of these health conditions than taking your blood pressure.
In this study, scientists used a hand-grip dynanometer to measure participants’ strength. Their measurements found that with every 11-pound drop in grip strength, the person’s risk of dying from a heart attack increased by 17 percent. Researchers also saw that people with a weaker grip were 7 percent more likely to have a non-life-threatening heart attack and 9 percent more likely to have a stroke, compared with those who had a stronger grip.
Dr. Darryl Leong, the study’s author and an assistant professor of medicine at Ontario’s McMaster University, told Yahoo Health he was “surprised by how strong the correlation was, given that it applied to people from many different countries and backgrounds.”
So, what does this mean for us?
According to the study, the stronger you are, the stronger your heart is. Traditionally, experts suggest cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming for maintaining a healthy heart, but more studies indicate that resistance training (or weightlifting) can pack just as many health benefits. So do your heart a favor and trade in those running shoes for a couple of barbells every once in a while!