fbpx Skip to content


Strong Hands = Strong Brains?

| Earn 1 CEC - Take Quiz

Could there be a handy new solution for improving cognitive health? Maybe, say U.K. researchers who found that people with significant grip strength tend to have healthier brains.

In this large study, grip-strength test results for 475,397 participants aged 37–73 were compared against various cognitive measures, such as reaction time, visual memory, number memory, prospective memory and reasoning. The information came from the U.K. Biobank. Each study participant was required to undergo grip-strength tests on both hands using a hydraulic hand dynamometer at a U.K. Biobank assessment center. Participants then underwent a 15-minute computerized assessment of each of the five cognitive parameters.

Data analysis showed that grip strength was positively and significantly associated with each of the cognitive measures. Grip strength also had a positive and significant association with visual memory and reaction time among 1,162 additional subjects with schizophrenia.

So, can training designed to increase grip strength lead to healthier brains?

The study authors aren’t sure and suggest that further investigation is warranted to find the answer. However, they do say hitting the weight room is not a bad idea—
especially for anyone with cognitive impairments.

“This raises the strong possibility that weight training exercises could actually improve both the physical and mental functioning of people with these conditions,” said study author Joseph Firth, PhD, research fellow at Western Sydney University.
The study appeared in Schizophrenia Bulletin (2018; doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sby034).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

Related Articles

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.