Age is relative. If you put two people the same chronological age next to each other, one may look younger while one may nonetheless be biologically younger. Yet age is the biggest risk factor for most diseases even though it doesn't tell much of a health story.

Population statistics about age are as pointless in individual care as most epidemiology, but they can provide proxies for biological aging that at least have people taking important things for their future, rather than placebos like a USDA food servings chart.

A new study posits that grip strength is associated with accelerated biological age. Specifically, the weaker your grip strength, the older your biological age, according to results published in The Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle. Past studies have shown that low grip strength is an extremely strong predictor of adverse health events. One study even found that it is a better predictor of cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction, than systolic blood pressure – the clinical hallmark for detecting heart disorders. 

Researchers at Michigan Medicine modeled the relationship between biological age and grip strength of 1,274 middle aged and older adults using three “age acceleration clocks” based on DNA methylation, a process that provides a molecular biomarker and estimator of the pace of aging. The clocks were originally modeled from various studies examining diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, physical disability, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation and early mortality.

Results reveal that both older men and women showed an association between lower grip strength and biological age acceleration across the DNA methylation clocks. That means if you engage in strength training you could maintain a big advantage in aging. Future research is needed to understand the connection between grip strength and age acceleration, including how inflammatory conditions contribute to age-related weakness and mortality