The purpose of this investigation was to examine the association between cognitive ability and upper body muscle strength. Two sources of existing data were pooled for this examination. Thirty-eight older participants diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia (25 women, 13 men; age = 83.2 ± 5.6 years, MMSE score = 16.75 ± 7.04, M ± SD) underwent an assessment of grip strength via handheld dynamometry. Multiple-regression analysis indicated that cognitive status was a significant predictor of strength and, when combined in a model with age and sex, explained 57% of the between-individuals variance in handgrip strength. The findings from this exploratory investigation suggest that dementia is associated with strength loss, a key contributor to functional disability; this further justifies efforts to investigate mechanisms responsible for this decay and to preserve muscle integrity by integrating physical activity interventions, notably, muscle strengthening, into the lifestyle of adults with dementia.
The authors were with the Dept. of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, at the time of the study. Rogers is now with the Dept. of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center 3119, Durham, NC 27710.