Factors associated with grip strength decline in older adults

Age Ageing. 2015 Mar;44(2):269-74. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afu170. Epub 2014 Nov 1.


Background: Few studies have examined associations of multi-faceted demographic, health and lifestyle factors with long-term change in grip strength performance across the adult lifespan. The aim of this study was to examine the associations of risk factors in specific parts of the adult lifespan (e.g. in early midlife, in late midlife and in old adulthood) separately for women and men.

Methods: Data came from the longitudinal Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging (SATSA). Grip strength performance was followed in 849 participants who were 50-88 years of age at baseline. The follow-up period with seven waves of data of grip strength was 22 years, and the risk factors were measured up to 20 years before the assessment of grip strength. Latent growth modelling was used for the longitudinal analyses.

Results: A gender difference in the type of factors associated with grip strength performance and development across the adult lifespan was found. Significant factors for the age slopes for women were stress, smoking and dementia. For men, marital status, mean arterial pressure, physical activity at work and having a chronic disorder were of importance. These factors varied in their associations with grip strength across the adult lifespan.

Conclusion: Factors measured earlier in adulthood were associated with grip strength decline in late midlife and old adulthood. Gender-specific patterns of risk factors suggest that it may be worthwhile to conduct research on grip and muscle strength (and biological vitality) separately for men and women.

Keywords: aged; gender differences; grip strength; lifespan; longitudinal; older people; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hand Strength*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis
  • Sarcopenia / epidemiology
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology