RVNAhealth: Work those hands, strengthen that grip

Here is the latest column from the home health care agency RVNAhealth, in Ridgefield, Conn. The column is written by RVNAhealth's President and CEO Theresa Santoro. This column is about grip strength and heart health.

Here is the latest column from the home health care agency RVNAhealth, in Ridgefield, Conn. The column is written by RVNAhealth's President and CEO Theresa Santoro. This column is about grip strength and heart health.

Contributed photo

In honor of Occupational Therapy Month this April, we bring you a topic near and dear to the hearts of all RVNAhealth OTs — grip strength. Not only does a strong grip make life easier, but in recent years, studies have also identified a connection between grip strength and heart health, suggesting that one’s grip strength is a reliable predictor of cardiovascular disease and other conditions, as well as indicating that grip strength exercises, done consistently over time, can help lower one’s blood pressure.

Grip strength is also a reflection of general body strength and muscle mass and a good indicator of one’s “biological age,” which gauges whether the body is functioning younger or older than its chronological age. Grip strength also provides a snapshot into overall health, and a healthy grip appears to be connected to better heart health, lower blood pressure and more flexible arteries.

Additionally, a strong grip brings many advantages to daily life, simplifying such tasks as cooking, dressing, eating and opening stingy jars. Not to mention, a firm handshake — once those return to the scene.

Grip strength is commonly measured using a dynamometer, a hand-held device that you squeeze strongly to get an assessment. The average of three scores at maximum effort will result in your final grip strength score. Since most of us don’t have professional-grade dynamometers at home, we invite you to either: Contact RVNAhealth at (203) 438-7862 to schedule a free reading; start working on your grip strength without a measurement; or consider a home version. We found them to be 90 percent accurate as compared to our professional-grade devices.

To learn more and see grip strength exercises, visit rvnahealth.org, or call our Rehabilitation & Wellness Center at (203) 438-7862.