Drop and give me 20! Actually, make that 40. A study from Harvard’s School of Public Health revealed that middle-aged men who can complete more than 40 pushups have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with men who can do less than 10.1
Considering heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and pushups are a simple, free activity that anyone can learn to do, this is information well worth acting on. Pushups themselves, despite their seeming simplicity, are incredibly beneficial. However, it’s likely not that pushups are a panacea for your heart but, rather, serve as an indicator of your overall fitness level.
While more extensive exercise tolerance tests such as treadmill tests, are available, and these have also been linked to cardiovascular disease risk, they can be expensive and time consuming and typically require you to visit a professional to administer the test.
The featured study is encouraging because this simple test you can do anywhere suggests the number of pushups you can complete may be a comparable and accurate way to gauge your heart’s health, with the researchers concluding, “Although larger studies in more diverse cohorts are needed, pushup capacity may be a simple, no-cost measure to estimate functional status.”
Ability to Complete 40-Plus Pushups Linked to Lower Heart Disease Risk
The study involved more than 1,100 male firefighters with a mean age of 40 years, who completed both pushup capacity and submaximal treadmill exercise tolerance tests. During 10 years of follow-up, the men had annual physical exams and completed health questionnaires.
Those who were able to complete more than 40 pushups at the start of the study had a 96 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who could do less than 10. Those who could do 11 or more pushups (but less than 40) also benefited, experiencing a reduced risk of heart health problems such as coronary artery disease, heart failure and sudden cardiac death compared to men who could do fewer.
Men who could complete between 21 and 30 pushups had only 25 percent of the heart problems compared to the 10 and under group, and, the researchers noted, “Participants able to perform 11 or more pushups at baseline had significantly reduced risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease events.”3
An important note: The pushups were completed at one time, as opposed to broken up over the course of a day, in time with a metronome set at 80 beats per minute. The pushups were tallied until 80 were reached, the participant missed three or more beats of the metronome or stopped due to exhaustion or other symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain or shortness of breath.
“Surprisingly,” study author Dr. Justin Yang, occupational medicine resident in the department of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a news release, “[P]ushup capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.”4
Even the U.S. military still uses pushups as part of their basic training and physical fitness tests, if that gives you an indication as to their usefulness as an indicator of fitness.
While the featured study concluded more research is needed to determine if the results apply to other populations, such as women, older adults or people who are less active than the firefighters in the study, there’s no reason to wait when it comes to increasing your level of fitness. What’s more, it’s possible to modify pushups to suit any workout level, from beginner to advanced.
I normally do about 20 pushups everyday with perfect pushups on an incline, but i decided to try the test and did 40 but the last 2-3 were a bit of a challenge. I love body weight exercises and in addition to daily pushups do 8-10 pullups, 10 full body dips and 30 slow ankle grabber situps.
This is in addition to my 2-3 times per week weight training sessions and daily 45 minute walks. I am committed to regular exercise because it is key to improving your mitochondria, autophagy and overall health.
TAP – Getting enough magnesium is also essential to not having heart attacks as my own experiences described in my book Angels & Devils – My Extraordinary Life make abundantly clear. Sometimes it’s easier to read a story than to study bare facts without the human and emotional element alongside.
There are many benefits to exercise and to recovery routines after exercise –