Can the Number of Pushups We Can Do Predict Our Cardiovascular Risks?

According to a Harvard University study, men who can do 40 pushups have a much lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years.



Why is it important?

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. The main risk factors for cardiovascular disease are lack of exercise, smoking, stress, hypertension, diabetes and malnutrition.

Objective assessments of physical fitness are considered powerful predictors of health status. Unlike the anthropometric measurements (length, weight, waist circumference, etc.) and the determination of certain serum biomarkers,  that get a lot of attention by doctors the measurements of levels of physical activity and cardio strength remain neglected. Most of today’s tools, such as treadmill testing, are very expensive and take too long to use during routine exams.

In a new study published in the JAMA Network Open, researchers at Harvard University wanted to evaluate whether the ability to do pushups can be used as a marker of cardiovascular risk. The researchers at Harvard University wanted to evaluate whether the ability to make pushups could be used as a marker of cardiovascular risk.

The Harvard Pushups study

The researchers carried out stress tests on treadmills and evaluated the number of pushups that 1,562 men with an average age of 40 years could do. The participants were then followed for 10 years and their cardiovascular histories were recorded.

In 10 years of follow-up, men who were able to do 40 pushups showed a significantly lower cardiovascular risk (coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction) (96%) than men who could do less than 10 pushups. The study showed that the ability to do pushups is even more strongly associated with cardiovascular risks than the results of the treadmill stress test.

A Flaw Study

According to researchers, the ability to do pushups can be a simple and free method to assess cardiovascular risks in almost all environments. Apart from that, when we took a closer look at their results, we realized that men who could do 40 pushups at the start of the study were on average 35 years old, while those who could only do between 0 and 10 pushups were closer to the age of 48. Indeed it makes sense to find more cardiovascular accidents in the 48-58 age group than in the 35-45 age group. Moreover, scientists have not mentioned any other important factor in their results such as smoking. Men who could do more than 30 push-ups were also least likely to smoke. Therefore, it is more likely that this observational study only shows that young men and those who do not smoke are less likely to develop heart disease within 10 years.

In practice, this means the following

However, it is still true that physical activity has cardiovascular benefits in terms of lowering heart rate and resting blood pressure. 1 in 20 heart diseases and 1 in 12 deaths can be prevented with exercise. Exercise increases the heart’s muscle mass: this could be attributed to the increase in the size of the heart’s cells, but it may also be due to the production of new heart cells. There is a real need to increase the physical activity of the population. In a report dated February 2019, Inserm stated, with regard to prescribing physical activity in chronic diseases, that “there is no longer any doubt about this necessity”. For both prevention and treatment, this can help doctors encourage their patients to do pushups to quickly assess their physical condition and enable them to prescribe the right physical activity. However, the association found by Harvard doctors is far from sufficient to recommend such a practice.

If you want to be physically active, you can choose a moderate activity, such as jogging, walking, swimming, and cycling.





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