You’ll often hear rock climbers and weightlifters talk about the importance of working on their grip strength; however, these aren’t the only people who should be concerned about how strong their hands are. Grip training is important for everyone, especially seniors, who often experience extreme declines in their grip strength as they age.
Don’t miss these three major benefits that seniors experience when they work on strengthening the muscles in their hands.
Daily Tasks are Easier
Think about all the times you use your hands throughout the day. From pouring your morning coffee to opening the front door to go get the mail, you have to do a lot of pinching, twisting, and supporting. These tasks probably seem pretty simple now. In fact, you most likely do most of them without even thinking. But, if you neglect your grip strength, you may find that these tasks will become more difficult sooner than you’d like. If you live alone and want to maintain your independence, it’s especially important for you to take your grip strength seriously.
Arthritis Pain is Minimized Naturally
Regular grip training can also decrease the pain you may experience from arthritis. This may seem counterintuitive since the last thing you probably want to do when your hands are stiff or achy is to move them. But, hand strengthening and stretching exercises can actually improve your mobility and reduce inflammation, meaning that you’ll experience less pain throughout the day.
Another benefit of using strengthening and stretching exercises to reduce your pain is the fact that you can get relief without medication. If you’d rather not take anti-inflammatories or other medications, you can use these exercises to naturally relieve your symptoms.
Risk of Disease Decreases
Grip strength is also correlated with a reduced risk of several diseases, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack, and stroke. Research shows that a decline in grip strength increased the risk of dying from a heart attack by 17 percent. The risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke increased by 7 and 9 percent, respectively, as well. The belief is that a stronger grip typically signifies more muscle mass. More muscle mass, in turn, is associated with more activity and better overall health, which decreases a person’s risk of heart disease or stroke.
How to Improve Your Grip Strength
There are lots of exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home to improve your grip strength. Some options include:
- Improve crushing grip with hand strengthening equipment like stress balls, therapy putty, and hand exercisers
- Do finger-walking and opening-closing exercises to improve flexibility and dexterity
- Try farmer carries (hold a weight/bag/suitcase and walk with it across the length of your living room) to improve your supporting strength
- Wrap a string or rope around a dowel (or simply practice wringing out a washcloth) to improve your wrist and forearm strength
Try to spend a few minutes each day working on these exercises to keep your hands and wrists strong and nimble. If you’re consistent, you’ll soon start to see all the benefits that come with regular grip training.