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While it’s no secret that a strong handshake is one of the greatest ways to make a lasting impression, a new study has shown that people with strong handshakes are better at problem-solving, memory tests and reasoning, and have faster reaction times.

The research, led by the University of Manchester, analysed the handshakes of 475,000 people and found that those with more muscle strength appeared to have better brains.

People with a stronger grip could solve more logic problems in two minutes and remember more numbers from a list, the latest study found. They also reacted more quickly to visual stimuli.

Lead author Dr Joseph Firth, an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester, said: “We can see there is a clear connection between muscular strength and brain health. But what we need now are more studies to test if we can actually make our brains healthier by doing things which make our muscles stronger – such as weight-training.”

The latest findings were published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin and it showed that hand grip can predict the mental abilities in people aged 40 to 55.

An earlier research on handshakes revealed that a firm grip could be a sign of a longer life expectancy. Scientists at the Medical Research Council found that elderly people who could give a firm handshake were likely to outlive their slower peers.

Simple physical activities such as shaking hands, walking, getting up from a chair and balancing on one leg were related to life span, the study showed.

“These measures have been used in population-based research for quite a long time,” said Rachel Cooper of the Medical Research Council’s Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing. “They may be useful indicators for subsequent health.”

Cooper, however, said that more studies were needed to clarify whether the measures could be helpful to doctors as a screening tool. “I wouldn’t suggest that we roll them out into clinical practice tomorrow, but it is possible that they could be used in the future,” she said.