Background: An association between handgrip strength, hand dexterity and global cognition is suggested; however, it is unclear whether both hand motor functions are associated with executive function, which is important for performing daily activities. Understanding this association will help identify motor risk factors for impairment of executive function in late adulthood. We aim to investigate the relationship of handgrip strength and hand dexterity with executive function in physically and mentally healthy community-dwelling older adults. Methods: Three hundred and twenty-six older adults (287 women, mean age ± SD, 70.1 ± 5.6) underwent handgrip strength and hand dexterity tests using a hand dynamometer and the Purdue Pegboard Test (PPT), respectively. Executive function was evaluated with the Trail Making Test (TMT)-A, TMT-B and Digit symbol; global cognition was assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Results: Age-group differences showed that the younger groups (60-64, 65-69 and 70-74) had a significant better PPT and executive function performance than the oldest group (75 and older), whereas no significant age differences were observed for handgrip strength. Multiple regression analysis adjusted for potential covariates, including MMSE scores, showed that TMT-A, TMT-B, and Digit symbol were significantly associated with PPT scores; however, no significant association was observed between executive function variables and handgrip strength. Conclusions: Hand dexterity is vulnerable to the effects of aging and, contrary to handgrip strength, it strongly associates with executive function, independent of global cognition. Our results suggest that assessing hand dexterity may help identify individuals at higher risk of impairment of executive function among high-functioning older adults.
ASJC Scopus subject areas