Men who can’t complete 10 push-ups are at a much greater risk of heart disease or a stroke, a new study has found.
The research, from a team at Harvard University, set out to see if there was a ‘simple, no-cost, surrogate measure of functional status’ which could indicate a person’s heart health.
As physical activity is a vital indicator of health, particularly cardiovascular health, the team looked at the link between push-ups and a person’s risk of heart disease, as they are simple to complete over a short period of time.
The study used a group of over 1,100 men, aged between 21 and 66 years old, an average age of 39.6. The average BMI was 28.7 – just in the ‘overweight’ range – though all the men were physically active.
Participants were assessed over ten years, recording their ‘push-up capacity and exercise tolerance’, with adjustments for age.
The researchers found a strong link between push-up ability and long-term health, stating there were ‘significant negative associations’ between increasing push-up capacity and cardiovascular health. In others words, the more push-ups someone could do, the less at risk of heart problems they were.
The study was published on the JAMA Network Open, where the study authors wrote:
Push-up capacity is a no-cost, fast, and simple measure that may be a useful and objective clinical assessment tool for evaluating functional capacity and cardiovascular disease risk.
The findings suggest that higher baseline push-up capacity is associated with a lower incidence of [cardiovascular] events.
Push-ups were also found to be better indicators of health than treadmill tests, as they wrote:
Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests [where subjects run while their breathing is measured].
The study found, if the man was able to do 40 or more push-ups in a given time, it was associated with a 97 per cent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
While those who could do 21-30 push-ups had roughly a quarter of the risk of heart conditions than those who couldn’t do 10.
The study concluded:
The findings suggest that higher baseline push-up capacity is associated with a lower incidence of [cardiovascular] events. Although larger studies in more diverse cohorts are needed, push-up capacity may be a simple, no-cost measure to estimate functional status.
Better start working on my upper-body strength.
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