Men who can do 40 pushups or more might have a lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular problem, including heart attack, than those who can complete fewer than 10.
In a new study, researchers found that at least for men, the ability to do push-ups in large quantities is a good predictor of heart health.
A Round Of Pushup For A Healthy Heart
A team of researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a study involving over 1,100 male firefighters aged 18 and above. From 2000 to 2007, the participants had medical checkups that recorded health data, including weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar. They also went through treadmill stress tests and did pushups.
The participants were divided into five groups depending on how many pushups they can do: 0 to 10, 11 to 20, 21 to 30, 31 to 40, and 40 and above. For 10 years, the researchers noted any cardiovascular issues that each participant experienced.
To their surprise, the researchers found that the number of pushups a person can do is a better predictor of heart health than a treadmill stress test.
Among the 1,000 firefighters involved in the study, the ones who can do 40 push-ups and more have a 96 percent lower risk of developing a heart condition compared to those who can only do 10 or below.
Healthy Body, Healthy Heart
The researchers, however, clarified that pushup alone is not an indication of a healthy heart. The study does not prove causation.
"It's probably not the pushup, per se," stated Stefanos N. Kales, a co-author of the study. "It's that the push-up is giving you an indication of what's going on under the hood."
The ability to do more pushup indicates that a person regularly exercises, eats right, and maintains healthy body weight. The goal of the study, according to Kales, is to provide clinicians a fast and simple test that requires no special equipment to screen patients for cardiovascular risks.
"It's not a one-size-fits-all, but it would likely cover a lot of people," he explained. "[There is] no cost, and it could likely be done in about a minute."
The study appears in JAMA Network Open.