Can our ability to open a jar of pickles or wring out a washcloth give us a greater chance of living longer? That’s an implication of recent research published in British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Scientists in the UK analyzed data on more than 53,000 people from 14 separate studies, ranking them into four groups based on the strength of their grips. Findings: Compared with the group that had the strongest hands, those with the weakest grips were 67% more likely to die during the study periods (which ranged from less than five years to more than 20 years). The link between grip strength and longevity was seen not only among seniors, but also in studies in which participants were younger than 60 years old, on average.

This research doesn’t necessarily prove that strengthening our hands will prolong our lives — but it well might. Besides, strong hands certainly do make countless daily tasks easier.

When I went looking for grip-building exercises to share with readers, I found a hand workout developed by Jack LaLanne, often called the “godfather of fitness,” who recently passed away at age 96. I contacted his widow and coauthor, Elaine LaLanne, who told me, “Jack did hand exercises every single morning for strength, coordination, dexterity and flexibility.”

Here’s the LaLanne daily hand workout, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. All exercises can be done standing or sitting. Why not try them for yourself? (As with any exercise program, get your doctor’s OK before beginning. These particular hand exercises may not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions — for example, carpal tunnel syndrome.)

Big squeeze. Use a rubber ball that fits easily into your palm. Grasp ball with all five fingers of right hand and squeeze as tightly as possible… hold for a count of three… release. Do 10 repetitions (reps), then switch hands. Work your way up to three sets.

Hand flexes. Extend arms straight out in front of you at mid-chest height, palms up, fingers spread. Quickly clench hands into fists, then open again. Do 10 reps as rapidly as possible… then repeat with palms facing down. Work up to three sets.

Shake-a-hand. Hold hands out in front of you and shake them, moving arms all around in whatever manner you like. Continue for one minute… work up to two minutes.

Newspaper roll. Unfold a section of newspaper (try four full sheets to start — if that proves too easy, use eight to 10 sheets). With both hands, grasp the newspaper at one end so that hands are shoulder-width apart. Elbows straight, extend arms in front of you at chest height, palms facing down. Begin rolling up the newspaper, twisting as if wringing out a towel… when you reach the end, reverse the motion to unroll newspaper. Work up to 10 sets.

Five to four. Hold hands in front of you at shoulder height, elbows comfortably bent, palms facing forward, fingers spread wide (as if each hand were indicating the number five). Then bring thumbs across palms (as if indicating the number four)… then extend thumbs again. Do 10 reps at a moderately fast pace. Work up to three sets.

Knuckle sandwich. Hold hands in front of you at shoulder height, elbows comfortably bent, palms facing forward, fingers together and pointing up. Without making a full fist or bending wrists, curl fingers until fingertips touch tops of palms… hold for a count of five… then uncurl fingers. Do 10 reps. Work up to three sets.

Spread ’em. Place hands flat on a desktop or tabletop in front of you, fingers spread as wide as possible. Press down firmly for 10 seconds, then relax. Do three reps.