Want to improve your fitness and heart health? When it comes to doing a push-up and heart health, can they help? Find out what the research says.
According to a study from 2019, the number of pushups you can do at once may be an indicator of your heart health. The study, which appears in JAMA Network, suggests that being able to do more pushups may mean you have a lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
In their research, the team found that cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk was 96 percent lower in men who could do 40 or more pushups compared to men who did 10 or fewer. Participants included 1,104 male firefighters who underwent baseline and periodic physical exams over a 10-tear period.
“Those completing the least pushups at baseline went on to have the highest rates of new CVD diagnoses; while those completing the most pushups at baseline enjoyed the lowest subsequent rates of CVD,” said Dr. Stefanos N. Kales, MPH, professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and one of the study’s authors.
Pushups and Your Health
The men in the study performed pushups set to a metronome beat and they were required to go on until they hit 80, missed three beats, or stopped due to exhaustion. If this test is accurate, it’s a simple and affordable way for doctors and patients to get a sense of their health.
According to the study authors, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) tests “have largely been neglected by clinicians.” Instead, doctors tend to rely on measurements (e.g.: weight, height, BMI) and serum biomarkers (e.g.: blood lipids, cholesterol) to determine someone’s heart health.
While even an organization like the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends CRF for clinical practice, typical CRF testing is generally expensive, time-consuming, and requires specialized personnel. However, pushup capacity exams may help overcome these issues.
One-Size Doesn’t Fit All
While the research seems promising, there are certain things to keep in mind. “This study cannot be applied to the general population who would find it difficult to do pushups,” said Dr. Guy L. Mintz, director of Cardiovascular Health & Lipidology, Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, New York.
“I feel that this study represents a niche group of patients (male firefighters) for a niche test. There are many patients including women that cannot do pushups, for example, lack the arm strength, but can do a significant amount of cardiovascular exercise and are physically fit,” said Mintz, who was not involved in the study.
Measuring Your Heart Health
There are various ways to measure your heart health besides pushups. If you want to know how your heart health is doing, talk to your doctor so they can perform the necessary exams. However, if you want to start improving your health on your own, start by practicing healthy habits.
For example, you can exercise on a regular basis, eat heart-healthy food, and take supplements like L-arginine Plus. Its ingredients support healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, circulation, and more. Give your heart the boost it deserves by leading a healthy lifestyle and taking L-arginine Plus.