Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently conducted a study, published in JAMA Network Open, to determine the relationship between pushups and heart disease, which can lead to heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.
To do so, they examined health data from 1,104 active male firefighters collected from 2000 to 2010. The subjects, who were around 40 years old, completed annual physical examinations and health and medical questionnaires. The analysts also measured the participants’ pushup capacity and their performance on the treadmill.
During the 10-year assessment, there were 37 incidents related to cardiovascular disease. All but one of the events occurred in men who completed 40 or fewer pushups at the beginning of the trial.
After further analysis, the scientists calculated that men who could do more than 40 pushups had a 96 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease events compared with those who were able to do less than 10.
“Our findings provide evidence that pushup capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting,” first author Justin Yang said in statement.
Furthermore, pushup capacity was more strongly associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease events than treadmill performance.
The team did note some limitations. They only evaluated middle-aged men, so results may differ for women or men of other ages.
Nevertheless, they believe their findings are strong.
“This study,” senior author Stefanos Kales said, “emphasizes the importance of physical fitness on health, and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters.”
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