We’ve all been told the importance of having a proper handshake. You want your grip to be firm, but not overwhelming. You want to lock eyes, but only briefly. You want to shake gentle enough to establish a connection, yet firm enough to concrete your confidence. This comes in handy for many of us. It’s useful during job interviews and whenever you’re meeting influential people. A proper handshake lets other people know you are on the same level.
But did you know that having a firm handshake may express more than your confidence? Obviously, it’s a good indicate of how serious you take any situation, but a handshake can apparently tip you off to potential health problems too! There are several recent studies being published that claim to have found a direct correlation between the strength of our handshakes and our overall health.
Primarily, there are two different findings that correlate to a strong handshake:
- A good and strong heart that functions the way it’s supposed to
- Improved brain functionality, particularly memory and problem-solving
That means anyone with a strong handshake is healthier and appears smarter. In fact, these studies are suggesting that the bigger the muscles, the better the brain functions. Of course, that refers only to muscles that have been built through traditional exercise. That doesn’t include anyone who has built muscles through supplements or enhancements of any sort. Let’s not advocate for superficial intelligence.
One of the researchers, and the lead author, focusing on these studies is Dr. Joseph Firth. He works at the University of Manchester. He made an interesting observation regarding the studies. He said the connection between strength and brain health is clear. But, his interest is whether or not people can increase brain strength through increasing muscle strength.
It would make sense, since the brain is just another muscle. The best way to exercise that muscle is knowledge, but physical exercise does wonders as well. Just think about the last time you went for a brief stroll and took in some fresh air. Your brain probably “woke up” and felt more alive and alert. It stands to reason that building muscle strength would encourage brain functionality.
The studies that he led measured the strength of a handshake against 5 tasks:
- Reaction time
- Reasoning skills
- Ability to remember numbers
- Ability to remember pictures
- Prospective memory function (which tested whether or not participants were able to clearly follow instructions after a delay)
The link between brain functionality and a strong handshake was further outlined through these core characteristics:
- Individuals with a strong handshake have better short-term memory
- Individuals with a strong handshake have better long-term memory
- Individuals with a strong handshake have quicker reaction times
- Individuals with a strong handshake have improved problem-solving skills
Additionally, studies from other research firms have suggested that individuals with a strong handshake have less risk of developing heart complications.
If this correlation is accurate, that means that science could be on the edge of identifying heart complications even before they start! The reason this type of test is ideal for screening is because the results are instant. The machine that is used to determine the strength of the handshake can produce an instant reading. Other tests for heart health can take quite a bit of time. The quicker the results can be delivered; the quicker solutions can be found.
A simple handshake could indicate your risk of dying from a heart-related complication too. It could be even more reliable than testing for higher blood pressure or the presence of obesity.
In fact, a study done on 900 Chicago locals suggested that a firm handshake actually indicated an individual was less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is because there is less cognitive degeneration in those who are still physically strong.
Unfortunately, these studies are bad news for anyone with a weak handshake! You could be at risk for heart complications because your blood isn’t pumping the same. A weak handshake could indicate that the heart is struggling to function correctly. That is likely why Dr. Firth is interested in the future development of strength versus health. If it is possible to work out to develop stronger cognitive function, we may all be signing up for a gym membership!
There’s definitely truth to the saying “a strong heart has a strong mind”. These studies are proof! Or, they could be if there were a few more done. At current, there aren’t many supporting studies that suggest any of this as proof. These studies are isolated at the moment. Although a few have been conducted, it’s not exactly “fact” quite yet! Still, the results are interesting and no one can really deny that.
These studies are promising as they may lead to understanding heart complications. There may be the option for an early detection method using nothing more than a handshake! Plus, along with early detection, there becomes an option to prevent many health complications just by keeping your muscles strong. This could be particularly beneficial to the older individuals with weakened muscles and bones.
Now, even though the conclusion is out at the moment, there’s no reason why we can’t start muscle training anyway. Muscle strength is crucial for many other health aspects, including the prevention of arthritis. Although a degenerative bone disease can’t be outright prevented with muscle strength, strong muscles mean stronger bones. The better we take care of our bodies, the longer they will take care of us. Apparently, the better our brains will work as well!
Maybe the gym membership isn’t such a bad idea. But for those who don’t want to spend the money, a nice walk around the block may be good enough. It stimulates heart function and gets that blood pumping! You could also shop for cheap exercise equipment online or through garage sales. Keep your eyes open for a good deal on getting fit. Your memory will thank you in 20 years.
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