New findings published in JAMA Network Open reveal that men who can knock out more than 40 push-ups in a row have a 96 per cent lower risk of heart disease than those who struggle to do fewer than 10.
“Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests,” lead author Dr Justin Yang, occupational medicine resident at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said in a press release.
“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.”
Analysing the health records of 1104 active male firefighters between the ages of 21 and 66, researchers found that 37 of the participants developed some form of heart disease. "All but one" of those completed fewer than 40 push-ups.
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In their research, scientists recorded the push-up count along with treadmill exercises at the start of the 10-year study. The volunteers then undertook annual physical examinations and completed health questionnaires.
“Participants able to complete more than 40 push-ups were associated with a significantly lower risk of incident CVD event risk compared with those completing fewer than 10 push-ups,” the study adds.
“Participants able to perform 11 or more push-ups at baseline had significantly reduced risk of subsequent CVD events. To our knowledge, this is the first study to report the inverse relationship between push-up capacity at baseline and subsequent CVD-related outcomes in an occupationally active male cohort.
“The most commonly used physical activity assessments are the patient’s self-reported history and health and lifestyle questionnaires,” continues the study.
“However, objectively measured CRF levels are often significantly lower than expected based on self-reported physical activity.
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“The use of these tools remains limited to particular occupations and targeted patient populations.
“To our knowledge, no study has examined the association of push-up capacity, a simple, no-cost, surrogate measure of functional status, with future cardiovascular events.”
The study authors also acknowledged that this might not account for the entire population and more research is needed to see if there are similar stats for women and men of other ages.
Heart disease affects nearly one in six Australians and is he leading cause of death in Australia.