Posted on Feb 28, 2019, 9 p.m.
According to a study involving male firefighters pushups may be a good proxy for physical fitness that is associated with better long term cardiovascular health, as published in JAMA Network Open.
The study from Harvard Medical school found the more pushups the subjects were able to do the lower their risk of cardiovascular disease events over the next 10 years were; with 15% cumulative incidence among those who could do up to 10 compared with 5% or lower among those who could do more.
Those who could do 40+ push up had much lower 10 year risk than those who could not complete more than 10, as did those who could do 21-30. According to Stefanos Kates, MD, “the message is twofold: based on this study push up should be included in cardiovascular risk factor reduction recommendations even for those with low capacity, although larger studies are needed in more diverse cohorts, push up capacity may be a simple and free measure to estimate functional status.”
Gold standard of cardiorespiratory fitness is the cardiopulmonary stress test, poor performers are recommended to receive CVD risk reduction management, which is time consuming, can be costly, and requires special equipment.
1,104 male firefighters aged 21-66 with a mean age of 39.6 were included in the study with an average BMI of 28.7 who all had received periodic physical exams at one Indian outpatient clinic with push up information available.
Results may limit generalization to other groups such as women, the analysis was not adjusted for multiple comparisons, and it is questionable if the team could fully adjust BMI for an activity that not only measures arm strength but how much weight has to be pushed up. “Given the push up were needed to be done quickly it is not certain the component of aerobic activity was eliminated.” cautions Paul Thompson, MD of the Hartford Hospital.
“Being in good shape is associated with better outcomes, hand grip, standing up without using hands, and other physical tasks are associated with survival. Doing sit ups may be a way to get a sense of longevity.”
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