The Power of Pushups (for Men)

Of all exercises, there’s probably none better well-known than the push-up. While they’re are relatively simple to do, doing sets of push-ups might appear to some to have limited value. A recent study, however, suggests that push-ups could give a big boost to the heart.

A Ten Year Study

Believe it or not, men who can do over forty push-ups in a row not only have a lower risk of heart attack, but of also stroke and heart disease as well. This was the conclusion of a report in JAMA Network Open, an online medical journal. Specifically, the study focused on middle aged men, and contrasted those who could do forty or more consecutive push-ups against those who couldn’t perform more than ten. 

Over a ten year span, the study authors documented the heart health of roughly 1100 male firefighters. When the study began, the participants had an average body mass index (BMI) of 28.7, and an average age of forty. It should be noted that a 28.7 BMI is considered to be overweight. 

In addition to documenting the push-up capabilities of their participants, the research team also required the men to complete health questionnaires and undergo annual physicals. After taking all their data into consideration, the authors found that the amount of push-ups a man could do directly impacted his risk of heart problems ‒ the greater number of push-ups in one sitting, the lower the threat of heart trouble.

Looking at the Numbers

Compared to men who were unable to reach 10 push-ups, the firefighters who were capable of doing 40+ push-ups were 96% less likely to suffer from heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

“There was basically a dose response; the more push-ups you could do, the less likely you were to have a heart disease event,” stated lead author Dr. Stefanos Kales, a professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “As you can well imagine, there are people who are world-class marathon runners who can’t do very many pushups, and there might be people who are bodybuilders that can do a lot of push-ups but can’t run very well. But we found in this study and other studies we’ve done, in general, push-up capacity and aerobic capacity are pretty well correlated.”

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