Handgrip strength is a simple test, measured with a hand-held device. On average, handgrip strength peaks in the 30s and 40s and then declines with age.
A handgrip could be used for early detection of health problems that may lead to premature death, say researchers.
"When individuals' handgrip falls below some reference value for their age group, sex and body height this can be taken as an indicator for practitioners that further health checks may be warranted," said Nadia Steiber from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.
The study builds on research conducted as part of the Reassessing Aging from a Population Perspective (Re-Aging) project, which showed that handgrip strength could be used as an alternative measure for age, since it corresponds with other markers of age such as future mortality, disability, cognitive decline and ability to recover from hospital stays.
The new study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, provides a comprehensive set of reference values for the measurement of handgrip strength that could be used in clinical practice.
The study was based on data from the German Institute for Economic Research including over 25,000 measurements of over 11,000 people.