A handshake may say a lot about your personality and confidence level – but apparently it is not all it says. According to a European health study just out, it can also say a lot about your state of health. The results of the study made headlines in this country because it highlighted Czech women over 50 as having the firmest handshake in Europe.
Firm handshakes you get all over the Old Continent, but for the real bone-crunchers you need to come to the Czech Republic. And your best bet is not a muscle-bound bloke on his way out of the gym, by a woman in her fifties, who is likely to be lugging around a shopping bag or two. They are not out to impress –they just happen to have the firmest handshake or the strongest grip - of all European women, followed by their German and Austrian counterparts. Spanish and French ladies – no offense - were bottom of the ladder. Jana Hamanová of the SC&C company which conducted the study here in the Czech Republic explains:
“The health study included physical strength and endurance tests because they are good indicators of the shape you are in, your fitness level and possible health problems. The way someone shakes your hand, blows up a balloon or even rises from a chair may indicate oncoming health problems. So the handshake was just one of many tests conducted. And, as regards the fact that Czech women of 50 and over topped the ladder, I think it is revealing of the life they led. This generation is still used to lugging heavy shopping bags around rather than throwing them in the boot of a car, of doing things by hand where most of us now rely on machines. They are used to physical work on a daily basis and I think that accounts for the difference as compared to women in other European states.”
Whether or not shopping bags and household chores are responsible, Czech women over 50 came out top in the dynamometer tests, while their male counterparts took sixth place on European scale, where Danish men triumphed. The results of this particular test also precisely reflected the difference in life expectancy between Czech men and women, who tend to live on average six years longer than their male counterparts. There is no direct medical link, naturally.
Another interesting aspect of the study reflects the connection between life-expectancy and education. According to medical experts our state of health depends by up to 50 percent on our life-style, by up to 20 on the medical care we have access to and by up to 15 percent on genetics.
The health study confirmed that people with a basic education and lower social standing are generally in a worse state of health as compared to those with a university education and materially better off. In the Scandinavian states the difference between those two groups is 6-7 years in terms of life expectancy, in the Czech Republic it is a shocking 18 years – for men and four years for women.
Jana Hamanová says this is fairly understandable.
“People with a higher education have greater interest in their health, are much better informed and also more ready to invest time and money in their health. Women tend to be far more active in this respect than men even those with a lower education. Men generally take less care of their health and are less into health food and exercising than women, but those with a higher education and higher social standing now put more effort into staying healthy and in shape.”