It is hard to have lived in Massachusetts for >8 years and not love Tom Brady even if you are not a serious football fan. (I know what you are thinking if you live outside of New England but as Brady once said in response to an 8 year old kid who asked him how he deals with the “haters”, “We love ‘em. We love ‘em back. Because we don’t hate back.”) Irrespective of whether you are a Pats, Giants or Eagles fan, I am sure that we can all agree that it takes incredible dedication and perseverance to make it to the top ranks of the NFL. As a Researcher who was worked in the field of Muscle Physiology for 7 years, I can appreciate the effort that these NFL players put forth to be in top shape from a Musculoskeletal perspective.
If you are reading this blog, you may be asking yourself the question: why does muscle health matter so much if you are an ordinary person with no aspirations to play competitive sports at the Collegiate or Pro level? Believe it or not, the strength by which you can grip a football can tell Physicians a lot about your overall state of health. Medical Researchers use a fancy device called a hand grip dynamometer to measure the grip strength of human subjects that participate in human clinical trials. Hand grip strength is very important as there many human clinical studies that have reported on the relationship between hand grip strength and the risk of mortality [1-3]. In other words, if your hand grip strength is really weak, it tells your Doctor that the future is not looking bright. Hand grip strength provides a simple snapshot of muscular strength. There have been countless studies that have been published in the medical literature that reported on the association between muscular strength and the odds of survival for serious diseases like cancer , COPD  and cardiovascular disease . In 2018, Dr, Kate Duchowny, a Public Health Researcher at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor analyzed hand-grip strength data from 8,326 study participants over a 9 year period . During this 9 year observation period, 1,799 deaths were reported. Dr. Duchowny’s analysis revealed that these individuals with poor muscle strength were much more likely to die prematurely than individuals with good muscle health in comparison.
No one likes to think about the subject of premature death and I can assure you that my message is not one of doom and gloom. (After watching the Titans crush the Patriots 20-13 last Saturday, I have enough doom and gloom to deal with in my life with the NFL playoffs coming up.) Rather, my message is one of hope and taking control of one’s destiny. There is no reason why you have to become a statistic like the 1,799 individuals in the Duchowny et al. study because there is a lot that you can do in terms of taking control of your muscle health.
You can start by eating well. Download an app to keep track of your daily protein intake and make sure you that you meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Get a gym membership and make it a point to do weight training twice per week. Finally, look at an advanced nutrition product called MYOS Physician Muscle Health Formula (www.myosrens.com) with Fortetropin®. In a clinical study at University of California, Berkeley older adults that took Fortetropin® on a daily basis for 3 weeks had an increased rate of muscle protein synthesis when compared with older adults that were given a placebo with close to identical nutritional content. If you follow these tips, odds are pretty darn good that your muscle health will improve (although I make no guarantees that you will be able to throw a football like Tom Brady, Joe Montana or Peyton Manning).
Wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2020!
1. Ali, Naeem A., et al. "Acquired weakness, handgrip strength, and mortality in critically ill patients." American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine 178.3 (2008): 261-268.
2. Rantanen, Taina, et al. "Handgrip strength and cause‐specific and total mortality in older disabled women: exploring the mechanism." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 51.5 (2003): 636-641.
3. Ling, Carolina HY, et al. "Handgrip strength and mortality in the oldest old population: the Leiden 85-plus study." Cmaj 182.5 (2010): 429-435.
4. Ruiz, Jonatan R., et al. "Muscular strength and adiposity as predictors of adulthood cancer mortality in men." Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers 18.5 (2009): 1468-1476.
5. Swallow, Elisabeth B., et al. "Quadriceps strength predicts mortality in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease." Thorax 62.2 (2007): 115-120.
6. Kamiya, Kentaro, et al. "Quadriceps strength as a predictor of mortality in coronary artery disease." The American journal of medicine 128.11 (2015): 1212-1219.
7. Duchowny, Kate. "Do Nationally Representative Cutpoints for Clinical Muscle Weakness Predict Mortality? Results From 9 Years of Follow-up in the Health and Retirement Study." The Journals of Gerontology: Series A 74.7 (2018): 1070-1075.