Muscular strength of adult Special Olympians by country economic status

Sara Santarossa, Viviene A. Temple, Pauli Rintala, Meghann Lloyd, Brooke DeMarco, John T. Foley


There is a strong relationship between economic prosperity and health as well as between muscle strength and health
(morbidity and mortality). However, very little research has concomitantly examined economic prosperity and muscular
strength in the general population, and no studies have simultaneously examined these factors in a population
of adults with intellectual disabilities. This study examined grip strength among adult Special Olympics participants
by country economic status. A total of 12,132 (men = 65%) right and left hand grip strength records were available
from the Special Olympics International (SOI) FUNFitness database. The 127 countries within the SOI dataset were
grouped by economy according to The World Bank’s gross national income per capita as: low-income countries
(n = 11), lower middle-income countries (n = 27), upper middle-income countries (n = 38), and high-income countries
(n = 51). There was a significant overall effect of country economic status for both males and females for right
and left hand grip strength. Although the grip strength of both men and women did not differ between low-income
and low-middle income countries, the general trend was to observe greater grip strength with increased economic
prosperity among both men and women. However, to advance our knowledge of the importance of muscle strength
for persons with intellectual disabilities, research linking grip strength to health outcomes, functional status, and
successful participation activities of daily living is needed.

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