While they have been temporarily set aside during the pandemic, handshakes are one of the most popular ways to greet people. The force used in this gesture, in addition to projecting trust, could be a sign of health problems in men.
A new study by Australian scientists assessed oxygen saturation in the bloodstream and grip strength in the hands of 613 men between the age of 40 and 88.
Experts also measured fat and body mass, as well as taking into account information about the participants’ lifestyle, such as diet, smoking and physical activities.
The research revealed that there is an association between low hand strength when greeting and hypoxemia, i.e. low oxygen levels in the blood.
This association, as noted by experts, does not depend on whether men’s muscle mass is high or low.
Robert Adams, one of the study’s authors, says that no matter how much muscle mass a man has, a simple hand grip test can uncover underlying problems related to aging and worsening hypoxemia.
“Without good levels of oxygen in the blood, we cannot use the muscles we have to their maximum,” says Adams.
Hypoxemia can also interfere with the function of the heart and brain by not supplying enough oxygen to these organs.
While the study has shown a link between a weak handshake and low oxygen levels in the blood, “causality cannot be established,” i.e. hypoxemia is not certain to be responsible for decreasing the strength of hands grip.