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Grip Strength across the Life Course: Normative Data from Twelve British Studies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard DoddsORCiD, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger, Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood, Professor Avan SayerORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Introduction: Epidemiological studies have shown that weaker grip strength in later life is associated with disability, morbidity, and mortality. Grip strength is a key component of the sarcopenia and frailty phenotypes and yet it is unclear how individual measurements should be interpreted. Our objective was to produce cross-sectional centile values for grip strength across the life course. A secondary objective was to examine the impact of different aspects of measurement protocol.Methods: We combined 60,803 observations from 49,964 participants (26,687 female) of 12 general population studies in Great Britain. We produced centile curves for ages 4 to 90 and investigated the prevalence of weak grip, defined as strength at least 2.5 SDs below the gender-specific peak mean. We carried out a series of sensitivity analyses to assess the impact of dynamometer type and measurement position (seated or standing).Results: Our results suggested three overall periods: an increase to peak in early adult life, maintenance through to midlife, and decline from midlife onwards. Males were on average stronger than females from adolescence onwards: males' peak median grip was 51 kg between ages 29 and 39, compared to 31 kg in females between ages 26 and 42. Weak grip strength, defined as strength at least 2.5 SDs below the gender-specific peak mean, increased sharply with age, reaching a prevalence of 23% in males and 27% in females by age 80. Sensitivity analyses suggested our findings were robust to differences in dynamometer type and measurement position.Conclusion: This is the first study to provide normative data for grip strength across the life course. These centile values have the potential to inform the clinical assessment of grip strength which is recognised as an important part of the identification of people with sarcopenia and frailty.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dodds RM, Syddall HE, Cooper R, Benzeval M, Deary IJ, Dennison EM, Der G, Gale CR, Inskip HM, Jagger C, Kirkwood TB, Lawlor DA, Robinson SM, Starr JM, Steptoe A, Tilling K, Kuh D, Cooper C, Sayer AA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2014

Volume: 9

Issue: 12

Online publication date: 04/12/2014

Acceptance date: 27/10/2014

Date deposited: 02/02/2015

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113637


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Funder referenceFunder name
Arthritis Research United Kingdom
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
consortium of UK government departments
Dunhill Medical Trust
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Medical Research Council
Newcastle University
Scottish Government's Chief Scientist Office
University of Essex
Age UK (Disconnected Mind project)
Arthritis Research UK
AXA Research Fund
National Institute for Health Research Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, based at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Newcastle Healthcare Charity
Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award
UK Food Standards Agency
University of Southampton
092731Wellcome Trust
2RO1AG017644National Institute on Aging
2RO1AG7644-01A1National Institute on Aging
G0500997UK Medical Research Council
MC_UU_12013/5UK Medical Research Council
MC_UU_12013/9UK Medical Research Council
MC_UU_12019/4UK Medical Research Council
R124/0509Dunhill Medical Trust
WT099055AIAWellcome Trust Fellowship