OBJECTIVES: Muscle strength in older adults is associated with greater physical ability. Identifying interventions to maintain muscle strength can therefore improve quality of life. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether current or former smoking status is associated with a decrease in muscle strength in older adults. METHODS: Data from the Health and Retirement Study from 2012-2014 were analyzed with regard to maximum dominant hand grip strength, maximum overall hand grip strength, and smoking status (current, former, or never). Unadjusted linear regression was conducted. Other factors known to be related to strength were included in the adjusted linear regression analyses. RESULTS: For maximum grip strength, the regression coefficient was 4.91 for current smoking (standard error [SE], 0.58; p<0.001), 3.58 for former smoking (SE, 0.43; p<0.001), and 28.12 for never smoking (SE, 0.34). Fully adjusted linear regression on the relationship between dominant hand grip strength and smoking did not yield a significant result. The factors significantly associated with dominant hand grip strength were male sex, younger age, a race/ethnicity of non-Hispanic White or non-Hispanic Black, higher income, morbidity of ≤1 condition, no pain, and moderate or vigorous exercise more than once a week. CONCLUSIONS: Muscle strength in older adults was not associated with smoking status in the adjusted analysis.
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