How Press Ups Can Help Predict Cardiovascular Disease

How Press Ups Can Help Predict Cardiovascular Disease

The World Health Organisation state that there are around 18 million cardiovascular-related deaths per year; making it an area of health that needs to be focused to aid prevention. A recently published study has shown that the number of push-ups that a man can do could, in fact, relate to their risk of cardiovascular disease.

Previously, it has been time-consuming and costly to assess someone’s risk of cardiovascular disease, with various cardiovascular analysis tests being a specialist area of medicine. Now, there is new potential for easily analysing a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, with a new study by Harvard School of Public Health showing the link between a man’s ability to do multiple press ups and their risk of CVD.

The researchers analysed health data from 1,104 active male firefighters collected over 10 years. Their average age was 39.6 and mean body mass index (BMI) was 28.7. Participants’ push-up capacity and submaximal treadmill exercise tolerance were measured at the start of the study, and each man subsequently completed annual physical examinations with health and medical questionnaires.

During the study period, 37 CVD-related outcomes were reported. All but one occurred in men who completed less than 40 push-ups during the baseline exam. The researchers calculated that men who were able to do more than 40 push-ups had a 96% reduced risk of CVD events compared with those who were able to do less than 10 push-ups. Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.

‘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 first author Justin Yang, occupational medicine resident in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health.

The authors noted that the study population consisted of middle-aged, occupationally active men, so the results may not be generalizable to women or to men of other ages or who are less active.

With more research needed before we can say that the ‘push up capacity’ test is a reliable form of CVD risk analysis for all, for now, this research holds possibilities for Personal Trainers who have clients with CVD or at risk of CVD.

With health experts previously using aerobic-based analysis to assess CVD risk in men, there is potential to switch from this to the ‘push up capacity’ test; giving the NHS the chance to seriously reduce what is spent on CVD risk analysis, speed up the detection of CVD, and the chance to get a more accurate insight into the risk of CVD.

Senior Author, Professor Stefanos Kales M.D sums the research up best by saying; “This study emphasises the importance of physical activity on health and why clinicians should assess fitness during clinical encounters.”

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