As far as exercise is concerned, most people would probably wish there was another way to get into better health. Even if you enjoy exercise, it is not always something you want to do, particularly since we are all so busy these days. And when it comes to choosing an exercise, push-ups are probably very low on the list. They are not very fun and they can certainly be quite tiring.
But a new study suggests that push-ups could be the perfect exercise, at least for men who want to lower their risk for heart disease and stroke. It might sound strange that push-ups can be related to these conditions but take a closer look at the numbers and it might become clear.
Yes, new research from the Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health studied how many push-ups a group of more than 1,000 firefighters can do (taking data between 2000 and 2010) to identify correlations to overall health. They also observed activity like treadmill performance and looked at overall health factors, including answers to health questionnaires.
It was important to observe firefighters because the research wanted to examine consistently active men with a certain level of health and fitness.
At the end of the decade-long study, the researcher found that 37 of the subjects involved developed cardiovascular disease-related illnesses. However, of this group, all but one were able to do at least 40 push-ups (in a row) at the start of the study.
To put it another way, the study suggests that men who can do more than 40 push-ups—without failure—could be at a 96 percent lower risk for developing heart disease and stroke than men who can do no more than 10 push-ups.
Perhaps more importantly, the study also found that push-up test performance may actually be a better predictor of heart health—on a ten-year basis—than the treadmill fitness test.
But what may be the most exciting aspect of this news is that push-ups are a practical exercise. They can be done at home (or anywhere with enough space to lie down prone) and they cost absolutely nothing, lacking the requirements for equipment or a gym membership or access to a personal trainer.
The results of this study have been published in the Journal for the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open.