Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Millenial And Generation Z Strength Decrease

*Erin and Vean trying to 'outgrip' each other
When I was just starting to work, my dad (from the boomers generation) felt that that my generation was weaker, softer and more fragile than him and his peers. Guess what? I now think the generations after mine (I am Generation X) are even softer. We even call them the *strawberry generation. I suppose every generation thinks that the generation after theirs is weaker than theirs.

Looks like my dad is right. A group of researchers (Fain and Weatherford, 2016) looked at the grip strength of millenials (born between 1981-1996) and compared the data with that of people in the 1980's. They found that grip strength (which is a good indicator of overall strength) dropped by 22 percent in men, proving that millenials are in fact weaker than the previous generation. Generation Z is even weaker.

Hand grip strength assesses the amount of force a person can generate with their grip. Researchers can find out a person's health, rate at which they are aging and diagnose certain health conditions such as heart disease, bone mineral density, cognitive impairment, falls etc.

Grip strength is usually tested with a dynamometer, which a person grasps the same way they would hold a glass, but with the elbow tucked into the side and positioned at right angles. The dynamometer is squeezed for 5 seconds, usually 3 times on each hand and performed on both hands, with the avearge taken.

Research shows that having grip strength lower than average compared to people of the same gender and age group was associated with heart failure risk, death from any cause and even predicting survival from cancer. Note that cancer survival is also dependent on cancer type and time of diagnosis.

Please note that grip strength is also correlated with height, weight and age. Taller, heavier and younger people tend to have better grip strength.

These declines in strength matter because we need a reserve of strength to maintain a high quality of life as we live to our 70's and 80's. 

What is causing each generation to be weaker than the previous? Modern life is less demanding for almost everyone except those still working in high activity jobs like labourers and construction workers. Our children have less physical education, spend less time playing outside and this continues in the army (for boys) and the workplace.

This a sign for our youth to get outside, move your bodies, take care of your physical health just as much as you're spending time on your screens. Then maybe, just maybe, we can stop this trend.

*Thanks to Byron for getting me the articles, and to Erin and Vean for posing for the picture.


Bohannon RW, Bear-Lehman J, Desrosiers J et al (2007). Average Grip Strength: A Meta-Analysis Of Data Obtained With A Jamar Dynanometer From Individuals 75 Years Or More Of Age. J Geriatr Phys. 30(1): 28-30.

Dodds RM, Syddall HE, Cooper R et al (2016). A Global Variation In Grip Strength: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Normative Data. Age Aging. 45(2): 209-216.DOI: 10.1093/aging/afv192

Fain E and Weatherford C (2016). Comparative Study Of Millenials' (Age 20-34 Years) Grip And Lateral Ponch With The Norms. J Hand Ther. 29(4): 483-488. DOI: 10.1016/j.jht.2015.12.006.

*The strawberry generation was first described in Taiwan as a term that describes today's young generation who have good ideas and creativity, but bruise easily like strawberries when put under pressure. Meaning they cannot withstand social pressure or hard work like their parents' generation.

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