Men who can do 40 push-ups are less at risk of heart disease, according to a new study

Being able to do 40 push-ups could mean you’re less likely to suffer from heart disease. Getty/neustockimages
  • A study has found that men who are able to complete 40 consecutive push-ups are 96% less at risk of cardiovascular disease than those who can manage under 10.
  • Researchers found that push-up abilities were a better marker of future cardiovascular problems than aerobic capability as measured on a treadmill.
  • However they note that the study doesn’t necessarily prove causation.

Push-ups have long been popular – with men in particular – for building shoulder, pec, tricep, and ab muscles.

However, being a master of the move may be doing a lot more good than just honing your physique.

According to a new study, men who can complete 40 push-ups are significantly less at risk of heart disease – which remains the leading cause of mortality across the globe – than those who can manage fewer than 10.

In fact, men who are able to complete more than 40 consecutive push-ups were found to have a 96% reduction in the incident of cardiovascular disease events compared with those who can’t.

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health assessed 1,104 active, male firefighters over the course of 10 years.

The mean age of the men was 39.6 and mean body mass index (BMI) was 28.7.

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Each man’s push-up capacity and submaximal treadmill exercise tolerance (aerobic capability) was measured at the beginning of the study, and then they underwent a physicial examination and health and medical questionnaire every year.

These push-ups had to be performed “in time with a metronome set at 80 beats per minute,” – essentially 40 push-ups in about a minute.

Over the 10-year study, 37 heart disease-related events were reported, and all but one of these incidents occurred in men who could not complete 40 push-ups in the initial physical assessment.

Researchers found that push-up ability was a better marker of likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular disease-releated problems than the treadmill test.

However the researchers point out that the study cannot prove cause and effect, and also note that the results may not apply to women or men of other ages who are less active.

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“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,” said lead study author Justin Yang.

“Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.”

Being able to perform even 11 consecutive push-ups was found to have positive effects.

“This study emphasises the importance of physical fitness on health, and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters,” added senior author Stefanos Kales, professor in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and chief of occupational medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance.