Get A Grip On Aging

Get a Grip on Sarcopenia and Aging

Sub Heading

Hand grip strength is a simple way to assess muscle loss in older adults.

Main Image

Alt text

APR. 25, 2018   3 MIN. READ

We've all battled with a jar lid that just won't budge. Maybe we tried banging it on the counter or holding it under hot water, and if all else failed, we probably asked someone for help. When they opened it on the first try, we joked that we loosened it for them.

Over the years, it might start to feel like these stubborn lids are getting stronger — and more common — but for many people, the problem is that their hands and bodies are simply getting weaker. 

Could the status of your health lie in the palm of your hand? It may not be as simple as that – but your hand grip strength, a key way to determine your overall muscle strength, can tell you a lot.

"Muscle loss is the aging factor that's rarely discussed and people accept its signs, such as a weaker hand grip, as a natural part of aging," explains Suzette Pereira, Ph.D., a researcher specializing in muscle health with Abbott. "But muscle health can often tell us how we are going to age, and stay active and independent."

Muscle Mass and Your Health

Starting at age 40, adults can lose up to 8 percent of their muscle mass per decade. After 70 years old, that rate may double.

According to research in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 50 percent of adults over the age of 80 have advanced muscle loss, known by the medical community as sarcopenia. Pereira explains that muscle loss can impact our energy levels and mobility, increase risk for falls and fractures, and even slow recovery from illness or surgery.

The good news is that grip strength is an easy way to assess your overall muscular strength. In 2015, The Lancet published research and found that grip strength is more accurate than blood pressure in forecasting fatal heart disease, and a 2017 Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care study concluded that muscle mass is a far better predictor of health than body mass index.

Alternative Text Alternative Text

The Science of Grip Strength

Why is measurement so important? Sarcopenia is regarded as an invisible health condition — unless you test your grip strength, you may not know if you're experiencing a loss of muscle with age.

So how do you test your grip strength? Some healthcare facilities may have grip meters, but it can be as simple as opening a jar, squeezing an orange or noticing the firmness of your handshake. If you detect a difference in your strength it may be time to do something.

Rebuilding Muscle and Strength

The good news is that it's never too late to regain muscle and strength. Pereira says it can be achieved through a combination of strength exercises and a complete, balanced diet with sufficient protein.

Alternative Text Alternative Text

Current dietary recommendations suggest that adults eat 0.36 grams of protein per day for every pound they weigh. That's about 56 grams for men and 46 for women. But some experts recommend getting almost twice that amount as you age1, especially if you're recovering from surgery, battling an illness or are malnourished. Aim to eat protein from a wide variety of foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu and beans.

Other key nutrients can help support aging muscles. The NOURISH study* — one of the largest clinical nutrition studies of its kind — found that older adults hospitalized for a heart or lung condition who received a complete and balanced nutrition Ensure® supplement, which had 20 grams protein, and HMB, or beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, an ingredient that supports muscle health, twice a day for 90 days post discharge saw improvements in hand grip strength.**

Muscle plays an important role in many aspects of life, and there are plenty of effective ways to test and improve your strength. Talk to your doctor about healthy options for preserving muscle mass.


*In a clinical trial with over 600 undernourished people with heart or lung disease age 65 or older, using Ensure Enlive twice daily versus a placebo control significantly improved nutritional status, body weight, and vitamin D levels over standard diet within 90 days of hospital discharge.

**Handgrip strength was measured in a post hoc analysis of more than 600 malnourished people with heart or lung diseases, age 65 or older. The specialized nutrition supplement was consumed twice daily for 90 days after hospital discharge.


1.  Kim I, et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2014;308:21-28.

8 Ways Muscle Loss Impacts Health | Abbott Nutrition

Main Image

Alt text


Are you tired by the time you reach the top of the stairs? Have you been ill or hospitalized and lost weight recently? Are you walking slower than normal? These can all be signs of muscle loss, and it's more common than you might think.

Advanced muscle loss, or sarcopenia, affects one in three adults ages 50 and older, according to Age and Ageing review.

"You have more than 600 muscles in your body, which account for up to 40 percent of your body weight — that's almost half of you," explains Suzette Pereira, Ph.D., a researcher specializing in muscle health at Abbott. "While aging is natural, losing too much muscle is not and can directly impact your mobility, strength and energy levels, immune system, and even organ function."

Because muscles are intrinsically linked to so many systems, research published in The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine argues that a person's muscle mass is a far better predictor of health than BMI, orbody mass index.

What are the risks of losing too much muscle? Read on to learn about the impacts and then check out “5 Ways to Age-Proof Your Muscles” for simple diet and exercise strategies to stay active and strong – so you can do the things you love. 

Common Menopause Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction

Main Image

A middle-aged woman gazes confidently into the distance.


­­Common Menopause Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction


Life transitions can be challenging, and misinformation can make it that much harder to approach a new life stage with confidence. For example, there are many misconceptions and myths about menopause that may leave you feeling unsure about what to expect or how to best navigate this transition.




Alternative Text Alternative Text


Complete, Balanced Nutrition® with an All-in-One blend to support recovery after a health setback.


Subscribe Policy

I understand and agree that the information I’ve provided will be used according to the terms of Abbott’s Privacy PolicyTerms and conditions apply.

Unless otherwise specified, all product and services names appearing in this Internet site are trademarks owned by or licensed to Abbott, its subsidiaries or affiliates. No use of any Abbott trademark, tradename, or trade dress in the site may be made without the prior written authorization of Abbott, except to identify the product or services of the company.