"Our results hint that women may be favouring partners who signal strength and vigour when they marry," said Vegard Skirbekk, Professor at the Columbia University in New York City, US.
‘Women are more likely to accept marriage proposals from men with a stronger hand grip.’
"If longer-lived women marry healthier men, then both may avoid or defer the role of caregiver, while less healthy men remain unmarried and must look elsewhere for assistance," Skirbekk added.
Grip strength is particularly important for older adults and has implications for a host of health risks -- for heart disease and fractures, physical mobility, the capacity to be socially active and healthy and to enjoy a good quality of life.
At the same time, marriage confers many of these same benefits, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the journal SSM-Population Health, the team examined 5,009 adults' relationship of marital status to grip strength.
Handgrip strength was assessed using a vigorimeter, a device that asks participants to squeeze a rubber balloon.
The researchers found greater numbers of unmarried men with low grip strength, reflecting societal trends that have increasingly de-emphasised the importance of marriage.
"The fact that many men are alone with a weak grip -- a double burden for these men who lack both strength and a lack of support that comes from being married -- suggests that more attention needs to be given to this group, particularly given their relatively poor health," Skirbekk said.