Delaney E. Adams1 & Monica L. Kearney1

1Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO

Physical activity (PA) can improve health and wellness and is a key target for worksite wellness programs. Handgrip strength can predict morbidity and mortality in various populations, including elderly and those with advanced disease, and often correlates with PA in such groups. However, the relationship between accelerometer-assessed PA and handgrip strength in healthy, active adults participating in a worksite wellness program has not been delineated. PURPOSE: To determine if handgrip strength differs by PA categories in healthy adults participating in a university worksite wellness program. METHODS: University employees (n=16; 9 female, 7 male, age = 42 ± 13 years; body mass index = 26.2 ± 5.7 kg/m2) participating in the worksite wellness program volunteered to measure steps for 7 consecutive days with a wrist-worn accelerometer and had handgrip strength assessed using an average of three attempts with a handgrip dynamometer. Average daily steps were calculated, and activity groups were determined using 1) a natural break in the data to delineate a most and a least active group, according to average steps/day (n=8 per group), and 2) tertiles of activity (T), as ranked from average steps/day [T1=least active (n=5), T2=middle active (n=6), T3=most active (n=5)]. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to determine if differences existed between activity groupings and handgrip strength, when adjusting for the influence of gender, for both most vs. least active and for activity tertiles. RESULTS: Participants averaged 12626 ± 974 steps/day (most active 15756 ± 2350, least active 9495 ± 2147 steps/day) and had a mean handgrip strength of 34 ± 2 kg. No effects were found for activity level grouping and handgrip strength, when adjusting for gender, either for most vs. least active (most 34 ± 1.7, least 34 ± 1.7 kg; p>0.05) or for tertiles (T1 37 ± 2, T2 31 ±2, 34 ± 2 kg; p>0.05). CONCLUSION: In a healthy, active cohort, physical activity may not be related to handgrip strength. However, a limitation of this study is that the relatively small sample size limits power when analyzing data by tertiles. Therefore, future studies should examine larger data sets when comparing data by tertiles, or potentially by quartiles or quintiles to allow a more comprehensive view of handgrip strength across the activity spectrum in this population.

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