Push-ups linked to heart health

Men able to complete more than 40 push-ups have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease (including coronary artery disease and heart failure) compared with those who are unable to complete 10 push-ups, says a new study.

Objective assessments of physical fitness are considered strong predictors of health status. However, most current tools such as treadmill tests are too expensive and time-consuming to use during routine health checks. 

This is the first known study to report an association between push-up capacity and subsequent cardiovascular disease outcomes.

“Our findings provide evidence that push-up capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting,” report author Dr Justin Yang explained.

“Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.”

From 2000 to 2010, researchers collected and analysed health data from 1104 active male firefighters.

Participants’ push-up capacity and submaximal treadmill exercise tolerance were measured at the start of the study, and each man subsequently completed annual physical examinations and health and medical questionnaires.

During the 10-year study period, 37 incidences of cardiovascular disease outcomes were reported. All but one occurred in men who completed 40 or fewer push-ups during the baseline exam.

The researchers calculated that men able to do more than 40 push-ups had a 96 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease events compared with those who were able to do less than 10 push-ups.

Push-up capacity was more strongly associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease events than aerobic capacity estimated by a submaximal treadmill exercise test.

Because the study population consisted of occupationally active men, the results may not be generalisable to women or to men who are less active, note the authors.

How many push-ups could you do at your peak? How many push-ups could you do now? Have you done a treadmill test for your heart health? Do you think it should be replaced by a push-up test?

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Written by Ben

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