If you're a 40-year-old boy and you can not do 40 push-ups in a row, maybe it's time to do something about it.
A new study suggests the number of push-ups in mid-old man may exhibit may be an indication of his general heart health.
Men who can do more than 40 at a time have a 96% reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease compared to men who could gather less than 10, according to the results published online on February 15 on the JAMA Network Open.
"There was basically a dose-response," said senior researcher Dr. Stefanos Kales, a professor of environmental health at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "The more you could do, you're less likely to have a heart disease event."
It appears that push-up capability can be a "general physical fitness indicator," Kales said.
"As you can imagine, there are people who are world-class marathon runners who can not do a lot of push-ups, and there could be people who are bodybuilders who can do a lot of push-ups but they can not work very well", added. "But we have found in this study and in other studies we have done, in general, the ability to push and aerobic capacity are fairly well correlated."
For the study, the Kales team monitored the heart health of just over 1
Men's push-up capacity was measured at the start of the study, and participants also underwent a treadmill test to test their aerobic capacity. Each man then underwent annual physical checks and completed health questionnaires.
During the 10 years of follow-up, 37 men developed cardiac health problems, the results showed.
Researchers broke the men into five groups, based on increments of 10 push-ups and performed the numbers to see if their push-up ability accurately predicted heart problems.
Even after adjusting for age and body mass index, investigators found that the number of push-ups that a man could perform predicted the risk of heart problems. The ability to push was more strongly associated with heart health than the aerobic capacity measured by a standard treadmill test, the authors said.
However, it is likely that doctors will continue to rely on treadmill tests as a measure of heart health, said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
"They agree with the authors that push-up performance can be correlated with stress tests," Bhusri said. "However, the tremendous data and information accumulated with stress tests still make it the gold standard."
Because the study concerned only men, the results can not be applied to women. Kales suspects there would be a similar relationship, but may need to be measured differently.
The push-up test may not accurately predict heart problems for everyone, added Dr. Gerald Fletcher, professor of cardiovascular medicine with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida
"It's not a good measure, in reality is not, because many people have suffered musculoskeletal injuries, "Fletcher said. "Some people have problems with their arms, I have an arm injury when I was playing football in high school, so I do not use my arms too much to do push-ups."
According to dr. Guy Mintz, push-ups could be a better assessment for "physical fitness and cardiovascular health in professions that require more physical abilities, such as police officers, firefighters or health workers". Mintz is director of cardiovascular health and lipidology at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York.
Fletcher suggested that people who want to protect their heart health should try to get 25 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. Examples: walking on a treadmill, riding an exercise bike or working on an elliptical machine.
Mintz recommends the "rule of four" to his patients.
"This is 40 minutes of continuous aerobic activity at least four times a week to provide four benefits – including improved blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugar – leading to improved cardiovascular health," said Mintz.
The American Heart Association has more stress stress testing.
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