Handgrip Strength and Cognitive Performance in a Multiethnic Cohort in Singapore

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD




Asians; Mental Status and Dementia Tests; cognitive dysfunction; hand strength


BACKGROUND: Handgrip strength (HGS) is an important marker of frailty but there is limited research on lifestyle and vascular determinants of HGS and its relationship with cognitive impairment. OBJECTIVE: To identify determinants of HGS and the association of HGS with cognitive impairment in a multiethnic cohort from Singapore. METHODS: This study (n = 2,109, median [Q1, Q3] age: 53 [48, 60] years, 59.6% women) was based on cross-sectional data from Singapore Multi-Ethnic Cohort. HGS was collected using hand-held Electronic Dynamometer. The potential determinants of HGS included age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, physical activity, serum cholesterol and history of hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. Cognition, assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), was analyzed as both continuous and binary outcome (cognitively impaired [scores <  26] and cognitively normal [scores≥26]). RESULTS: In total, 239 (11.3%) participants were cognitively impaired. Older age, female sex, Malay or Indian compared with Chinese ethnicity, and diabetes history were associated with decreased HGS, whereas higher education, higher body mass index, and more physical activity were associated with higher HGS. Higher HGS was associated with higher MMSE scores (β: 0.34, 95% CI: 0.20, 0.49) and 37% lower odds of cognitive impairment (OR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.49-0.82). These associations were significantly stronger in participants who were older (50-90 years), female, of Malay and Indian ethnicity (compared with Chinese), and less educated. CONCLUSION: In this multi-ethnic Asian population, demographics, vascular risk factors, and lifestyle behaviors were associated with HGS. Additionally, higher HGS was associated with substantially better cognitive function, which association was modified by age, sex, ethnicity, and education level.


Exercise and Nutrition Sciences