Men who can do at least 40 push-ups in one attempt are less likely to suffer from heart disease, according to a new global study. The study is the first of its kind to look at a link between push-up capacity and cardiovascular disease outcomes in later life. For a decade between 2000 and 2010 researchers in Italy, the United States and Cyprus collected annual data from 1,104 active male firefighters.
At the start of the study, the average participant was 39.6 years old and had an average body mass index (BMI) of 28.7, with a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9; classed as overweight. The participants were then asked to perform as many push-ups as they could in one go. Their treadmill performance was also assessed. By the end of the study, 37 of the participants, who suffered from a heart related disease, 36 were found to be men who were not able to do more than 40 pushups in the initial test.
The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open, revealed that those who were able to complete more than 40 pushups in the initial test had a 96% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and other related conditions, including heart failure and coronary artery disease. “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,” said the study’s first author, Justin Yang from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.”
The researchers noted that the study only included middle aged, active men and the results may not be generalizable to women or men of other ages or less active people. However, they did stress the positive impact of being physically fit on a person’s health. “This study emphasises the importance of p hysical fitness on health and why clin icians should assess fitness during clinical encounters,” added senior author Stefanos Kales.