Was the last time you did pushups in gym class?
If so, it could be time to lie down and try out a few reps, because this simple exercise means more about your health than you think.
According to a new study published in JAMA Network Open, pushup capacity is inversely associated with future cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidents — meaning the more pushups you can do, the less likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers found that CVD risk was 96 percent lower in men who were able to do 40 or more pushups during a physical test compared to men who could do 10 or fewer.
The retrospective longitudinal study followed 1,104 male firefighters over a 10-year period between 2000 and 2010. The men underwent baseline and periodic physical examinations that included timed pushups and cardiorespiratory endurance (such as a treadmill test).
“Those completing the least pushups at baseline went on to have the highest rates of new CVD diagnoses; while those competing the most pushups at baseline enjoyed the lowest subsequent rates of CVD,” Dr. Stefanos N. Kales, MPH, professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and one of the study’s authors, told Healthline.
Surprisingly, he said, pushup capacity also was a better predictor of CVD outcomes than submaximal treadmill tests, a more commonly used test.