A strong handgrip is a simple sign that your brain is healthy, new research finds.
The study of almost half a million people found that stronger people — as measured by grip strength — performed better on tests of reaction speed, memory and logical problem solving.
The link was found in young and old alike.
Dr Joseph Firth, the study’s first author, said:
“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.”
The study used data from 475,397 people in the UK.
The link between strength and brain health suggests that weight training can be beneficial to the brain.
Dr Firth said:
“We can see there is a clear connection between muscular strength and brain health.
But really, what we need now, are more studies to test if we can actually make our brains healthier by doing things which make our muscles stronger – such as weight training.”
It is known that aerobic training improves brain health, but the effect of weight training on the brain has not been fully investigated.
Dr Firth said:
“These sorts of novel interventions, such as weight training, could be particularly beneficial for people with mental health conditions.
Our research has shown that the connections between muscular strength and brain functioning also exist in people experiencing schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder – all of which can interfere with regular brain functioning.
This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin (Firth et al., 2018).