Updated 04 September 2020

The strength of your handshake could predict your chances of type 2 diabetes

Every unit increase in grip strength value indicates a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in old age.

  • The stronger your grip, the lower your risk of type 2 diabetes 
  • A cohort study found a 50% lower risk for every unit increase of handgrip strength
  • It's an especially useful indicator for women

Is there a link between muscular strength and diabetes?

The strength of your grip could indicate your chances of getting type 2 diabetes in your old age, according to a cohort study.

Earlier research debated the efficacy of testing muscular strength in handgrips when it comes to diagnosing type 2 diabetes, with many studies conflicting each other, according to an analysis published in Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews. 

READ | Stressful days, worse blood sugar control for people with diabetes 

Ten studies found that the chance of developing type 2 diabetes goes down the stronger you are. 

The authors from the Universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland then published their own cohort study in Annals of Medicine to address the concerns raised.

Finnish handshakes

For 20 years they tracked 776 Finnish people between the ages of 60 and 72 with no previous history of type 2 diabetes. During that time, 59 of them ended up being diagnosed with diabetes. 

At the start, they measured their dominant handgrip strength using a dynamometre, and compared the measurements to those of diabetics.

They found that there was indeed a link between muscular strength and the disease, especially in women.

INFOGRAPHIC | How likely you are to get diabetes if your family have it?

50% risk reduction

According to their data, every unit increase in handgrip strength value indicated approximately a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.  

By combining this screening tool with other indicators, accurate prediction of type 2 diabetes increased considerably. 

"Assessment of handgrip strength is simple and inexpensive and could prove a valuable clinical tool in the early identification of people at high risk of future type 2 diabetes," write the authors.

The researchers hope to expand these studies to other populations for more diversity to confirm their findings. They would also like to find out if improving muscle strength through exercise could reduce people's chances of type 2 diabetes. 

It might be a good idea to start playing "mercy". 

READ | Technology can be a diabetic's best friend

Image credit: Pixabay


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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