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Younger Adults Aren’t as Strong as They Used to Be

Exercise participation is strong among Millennials, but it appears that all that hard work in the gym may not be paying off—at least when it comes to one particular strength measure, say researchers from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina.

The researchers compared grip and pinch strength in 237 Millennials aged 20–34 against norms established in a 1985 study. Strength scores were inferior to 30 years ago for all study groups except women aged 30–34.

Millennial men were able to apply 98 pounds of force with the right hand, whereas their counterparts in 1985 generated an average of 117 pounds of grip force. The trend was reversed only for women in their early 30s: Today’s participants averaged 19 pounds more force than the women studied in 1985.

So, why are younger adults losing their grip?

“Work and leisure patterns have changed in America dramatically since 1985 when the original norms were established,” said Elizabeth Fain, EdD, assistant professor of occupational therapy for the school. “Millennials—individuals born after 1980—report a frequent usage of technology in work, play and leisure activities. That appears to have had an impact on their grip.”

p>This study appeared in the Journal of Hand Therapy (2016. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jht.2015.12.006).

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