Handgrip strength does not represent an appropriate measure to evaluate changes in muscle strength during an exercise intervention program in frail older people.

M. Tieland*, L.B. Verdijk, L.C. de Groot, L.J. van Loon

*Corresponding author for this work

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INTRODUCTION: Although handgrip strength is considered a strong predictor of negative health outcomes, it is unclear whether handgrip strength represents a useful measure to evaluate changes in muscle strength following resistance-type exercise training in elderly people. We assessed whether measuring handgrip strength provides proper insight in the efficacy of resistance-type exercise training to increase muscle mass, strength and physical performance in frail elderly. METHODS: Pre-frail and frail elderly (>/=65 y) were either conducting a 24 wk resistance-type exercise training or no exercise training. Before, during, and after the intervention, handgrip strength (JAMAR), lean body mass (DXA), leg strength (1-RM), and physical performance (SPPB) were assessed. RESULTS: Handgrip strength correlated with appendicular lean mass (rho =0.68; P<.001) and leg strength (rho =0.67; P<.001). After 24 wks of whole body resistance-type exercise training, leg extension strength improved significantly better when compared with the control group (57+/-2 to 78+/-3 kg vs 57+/-3 to 65+/-3 kg: P<.001). Moreover, physical performance improved significantly more in the exercise group (8.0+/-0.4 to 9.3+/-0.4 points) when compared with the control group (8.3+/-0.4 to 8.9+/-0.4 points: P<.05). These positive changes were not accompanied with any significant changes in handgrip strength (26.3+/-1.2 to 27.6+/-1.2 kg in the exercise group vs 26.6+/-1.2 to 26.3+/-1.3 kg in the control group: P=.71). CONCLUSION: Although handgrip strength strongly correlates with muscle mass and leg strength in frail elderly people, handgrip strength does not provide a valid means to evaluate the efficacy of exercise intervention programs to increase muscle mass or strength in an elderly population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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