How your handshake comes across to another person can say so much about you that some people will go so far as to practice their handshakes before a big job interview.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

But what exactly does your gripping greeting reveal about you? According to a new study, it goes well beyond just a show of your confidence or other personality traits.

Research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria found that hand-strength can be a predictor of age and future health. More specifically, it can be used to analyze mortality, disability, cognitive decline, a person’s ability to recover from a hospital stay and even can be correlated with the educational level a person attained, according to a news release from the institute.

“We found that based on this survey, a 65-year-old white women who had not completed secondary education has the same hand-grip strength as a 69-year-old white women who had completed secondary education,” study author Serguei Scherbov said in a statement. “This suggests that according to a hand-grip strength characteristic their ages are equivalent and 65-year-old women ages four years faster due to lower education attainment.”

According to the study abstract, the hand-grip strength of 65-year-old white males with less education was the equivalent to that of nearly 70-year-old white men with more education. Low hand-grip strength was associated with poorer health outcomes overall.

The ultimate goal of using hand-grip strength to measure these factors, the researchers said, is to compare how fast different groups in a society age.

“If some group is getting older faster than another, we can ask why that might be and see whether there are any policies that could help the faster aging group,” Scherbov said.

The research was published in the journal PLOS One this week.

A previous study from the University of Illinois, found handshakes are powerful enough to increase the effect of a positive interaction and even diminish the effect of a negative first impression.

“In a business setting this is what people are expecting, and those who know these things use them,” researcher Florin Dolcos said at the time. “Not a very long time ago you could get a loan based on a handshake. So it conveys something very important, very basic. Yet the science underlying this is so far behind. We knew these things intuitively but now we also have the scientific support.”

(H/T: Discovery News)

Front page image via Shutterstock.