When I started lifting I heard about the correlation of grip and push-ups to longevity.
I wondered whether holding a loaded barbell and heavy kettlebells (grip), and doing push-ups every day would add to my years on earth? Grip strength and pushups are correlated to longer lifespan. Walking speed, and getting off the floor no-handed are too. But those things by themselves aren’t going to extend your life.
First off, grip isn’t just about hand strength. Push-ups are not just for chest and arms. A push-up involves the plank, a great whole body core strength and stabilization exercise. Grip strength enables you to lift heavy.
If you can’t stabilize your body, and if you can’t grip, you can’t lift. We need to train grip and push-ups to lift stuff, push, pull, and move so our bodies function at their best every day. Gripping, push-ups, walking fast, and the ability to get off the floor are all functions of a healthy, strong body.
Research and tests: In this 2019 article in The Atlantic the author talks about diagnostic testing. Walking speed is used as a tool to determine longevity, and also the cross-legged, no handed get up test. (I think this test is really tough for older hips and knees. If you can get off the floor without your hands any way you want, you’re in good shape!)
In this study done on firefighters , researchers found that push-up tests were better at predicting cardiovascular disease than a walking test. Push-ups are an indicator about whole-body movement capacity. Keep on doing push-ups, for full-body, core stabilization and strength.
Then the question arises, can you change life expectancy? Epigenetics is the study of how you can change the way your genes work by your behaviors, such as what you eat and how physically active you are. The study shows that you can change how your body reads a DNA sequence, meaning that you can change how strong you can get, and maybe how long you live. We can change our genes and DNA expression with exercise and diet, leading to physical outcomes, including brain function and cognition. If you’re training regularly, I’ll bet you’re also taking good care of your body with a healthy diet to build your muscular/skeletal strength.
So grip strength and push-ups alone won’t directly lead to longevity. Nor will fast walking, or getting up off the floor no-handed. But all together – regular movement, flexibility, the ability to generate power, and strength will improve your life expectancy and quality of life, and pay off in your athletic performance.
Train to pick things up and put them down (seriously), move regularly, push your body solidly off the floor, walk fast, and work on getting off the floor without hands (any way you do it!), and these behaviors will add up in quality of life, and possibly longer lifespan while you’re doing all the things you enjoy. Remember:If you use your body for a purpose, you ARE an athlete.
Here are a couple of videos for you: Push-ups 101 and Training Grip and push-ups.
For my rowing friends, Shane Farmer, of Dark Horse Rowing, has this to say on grip strength.
Here’s why runners should do push-ups.
My cycling buddies: The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists
Women especially: Learn to lift heavy, especially women through menopause and beyond.