Dementia describes a set of symptoms that are associated with brain damage, including memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.
The changes may be subtle initially, but as the condition progresses, dementia can have a marked effect on your daily life.
The condition mostly develops as people age, although it is not a natural part of the ageing process.
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There is currently no known cure for dementia but research suggests lifestyle factors can heighten your risk of developing the neurological condition.
Of course, if you could be alerted to your level of risk, you could take the necessary steps to reduce your chances of developing it.
A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that using a dynamometer device – a hand grip that gives an accurate reading of your grip strength and upper body strength – can determine your risk of developing dementia.
The researchers were working off the hypothesis that poor grip strength may be an indicator of cognitive impairment – a precursor to dementia.
Experts from North Dakota State University found that each 5kg reduction in grip strength was associated with an 18 percent greater chance of severe cognitive development.
The research, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease last year, concluded that doctors should consider looking at grip strength in assessments of cognitive function.
In light of the findings, study lead Prof Ryan McGrath called for grip strength to become a standard part of the assessment procedure.
He said: “I’d personally encourage physicians to include grip strength is assessing cognitive function.”
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How does a grip strength work?
Grip strength is the force applied by the hand to pull on or suspend from objects and is a specific part of hand strength.
The greater the force applied to the device, the stronger you are.
Bolstering the findings, a 2012 study found that weaker grip strength was associated with lower memory, language, and cognitive abilities in people 65 or older.
That study also found that slower walking speed, or “gait” speed, was associated with those reductions.
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Another study found that found using a dynamometer to assess grip strength may also indicate your risk having a heart attack or stroke, or dying from cardiovascular disease.
This association is significant because it is generally believed that what is good for heart health is a good indicator of brain health so the link to dementia is not surprising.
The findings, published in The Lancet, found that Each 11-pound decrease in grip strength over the course of the study was linked to a 16 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, a 17 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, a nine percent higher risk of stroke, and a seven percent higher risk of heart attack.
How to build muscle strength
According to Harvard Health, to build muscle strength, you should do resistance training two or three times per week. Give your muscles one or two days off in between workouts.
“Most people turn to dumbbells and weight machines to build muscles. Resistance bands work just as well,” explains the health site.
As the health site notes, you don’t have to limit muscle building workouts, you can take advantage of daily activities to challenge your muscles too.
- Lift a carton of milk a few times before you put it back in the refrigerator to build your arm muscles.
- Take the stairs whenever possible. This will build the muscles in your legs, hips, buttocks, and abdomen.
- Get active while talking on the phone or standing in line by doing leg lifts and heel raises. This will help strengthen the muscles in your legs and buttocks.
It adds: “It’s also important to get enough sleep. Sleep is critical for muscle recovery and proper healing of stressed tissues.
“Aim for seven to eight hours per night. That will give your body time to repair muscle tissue and replenish your muscle’s energy stores.”
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