How many pumps can you do? Your answer could predict your risk of premature death

Quickly, how many pumps can you do?

No, not how many Push-Ups you say you can do-how many push-ups can you Actually to do before your muscles let go and you need a break?

Because a new study by researchers at Harvard T.H. The Chan School of Public Health explains in detail how your answer could reveal a lot about your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the world, it is crucial to have tests that can help us predict risk. The performance of submaximal treadmill tests has been shown to predict the risk of CVD, but they are also "expensive, time consuming, and often require professional facilities and trained personnel to administer."

On the other hand, a Push-Up ability test can be performed virtually anywhere and takes very little time to administer. And according to this study, predicting the risk of CVD is even more effective than traditional tests.

Here is how the study was designed:

  • Researchers analyzed the health data of 1,104 active middle-aged firefighters between 2000 and 2010.
  • The average age of the participants was 39.6 years and the average body mass index (BMI) of 28.7.
  • Participants' push-up ability and "submaximal tolerance to treadmill exercise" were tested early in the study.
  • The push-up test consisted of "ordering the firefighter to start push-ups with a metronome set at 80 beats per minute." The clinic staff counted the number of push-ups completed until the participant reaches 80, missing three beats or more of the metronome, or stopped due to exhaustion or other symptoms (dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain or shortness of breath.)
  • Each participant underwent annual physical exams (including a repeat of the aforementioned capacity tests) and health questionnaires during the first seven years of the study. They have also reported findings of cardiovascular disease, such as diagnoses of coronary heart disease or major events such as heart failure.

The Harvard Gazette summarizes the results as such:

During the 10-year study period, 37 outcomes related to cardiovascular disease were reported. All but one case occurred in men who performed at least 40 pumps during the initial examination. The researchers calculated that men capable of making more than 40 pumps had a reduced risk of CVD of 96% compared to those who were able to do less than 10 pumps. The upward thrusting ability was more strongly associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular events than the estimated aerobic fitness by a submaximal treadmill exercise test.

Forty uninterrupted Push-Ups, it's certainly a lot, but even a slight improvement in your Push-Up ability could indicate a reduced risk of CVD, since men who performed between 11 and 20 Push-Ups had a reduced risk of CVD by 64%. to those who could not do more than 10 years. While younger men were generally able to do more pushups than older men in this study, the authors write that "even after adjusting for age and body mass index, we observed an independent association increased capacity with the results of the CVM. "It would be nice to know what exactly counts as a successful push-up in these tests, however, and the authors caution against the assumption that the same results apply to populations other than those included in the study without further research.

Due to a process called sarcopenia, men and women can lose 30 to 50% of their muscle strength between 30 and 80 years of age. Research shows that maintaining or increasing muscle strength during this period could have a considerable impact on health. A 2018 study published in the journal Medicine revealed that an increase in grip strength was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular risk in Korean men and women.

Research like this is why strength training (yes, bodyweight exercises like pumps) are among the three commandments for better fitness.

Photo credit: FatCamera / iStock


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