Bidirectional association between physical activity and muscular strength in older adults: Results from the UK Biobank study

A. J.M. Cooper*, M. J.E. Lamb, S. J. Sharp, R. K. Simmons, S. J. Griffin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The relationship between physical activity and muscular strength has not been examined in detail among older adults. The objective of this study was to examine the associations between physical activity and hand grip strength among adults aged ≥60 years. Methods: Using data from the UK Biobank study, we included 66 582 men and women with complete baseline data and 6599 with 4.5 years of follow-up data. We used multiple linear regression models to examine the cross-sectional, longitudinal and bidirectional associations between moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and grip strength, adjusting for potential confounding by age, sex, height, weight, health status, education level, smoking status, Townsend deprivation index and retirement status. Results: In cross-sectional analyses, grip strength and MVPA were linearly and positively associated with each other. Longitudinally, baseline MVPA was not associated with grip strength at follow-up (difference between quintile [Q] 5 and Q1 = 0.40 [95% confidence interval (CI): -0.14, 0.94]kg), whereas baseline grip strength was associated with MVPA at follow-up [Q5 vs Q1 = 7.15 (1.18, 13.12) min/day]. People who maintained/increased time spent in MVPA did not experience any benefit in grip strength [0.08 (-0.20, 0.37) kg] whereas those who increased their grip strength spent 3.69 (0.20, 7.17) min/day extra in MVPA. Conclusion: Promotion of strength-training activities may enable and maintain participation in regular physical activity among older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number1
Early online date20 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2016, The Author.


  • Bidirectional
  • Longitudinal
  • Muscle strength
  • MVPA
  • Older adults
  • Physical activity
  • UK Biobank

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