Cardiovascular Risk and Push-Ups
I was scrolling through the most read articles through the JAMA group this year and the top one was the following:
It is kind of a cool study looking at the link between push-up capacity in firefighters in Indiana 18 years of age and older who had no job restrictions at the time of the initial assessment. They divided the group based on the number of push-ups they could complete into the following categories:
- 0-10 push-ups
- 11-20 push-ups
- 21-30 push-ups
- 31-40 push-ups
- ≥ 41 push-ups
They followed this group for 10 years and found that the push-ups capacity was related to survivability. What’s interesting is that it was also significantly inversely associated with key cardiovascular risk factors:
- Age, P < .001
- BMI, P < .001
- Systolic blood pressure, P < .001
- Diastolic blood pressure, P < .001
- Total cholesterol level, P = .02
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, P = .04
- Triglycerides, P < .001
- Glucose level, P < .001
- Smoking status, P < .001
The figure from this trial shows that people that had the lowest push-ups capacity had the highest 10-year mortality.
Image source: Yang J, Christophi CA, Farioli A, et al. Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e188341-e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341
What does this mean to practice?
- The benefits of physical activity on cardiovascular disease risk has been known for years. This study clearly demonstrated the benefits of resistance exercise (push-ups) on 10-year cardiovascular mortality.
- This study provides a way of accessing functional and fitness status with a simple test. It also provides a goal for patients as well.
- Looking at the figure, it also contributes to the common notion that the most benefits of exercise are seen in people with the lowest fitness level becoming more active.
- This study is early but it is a simple assessment test that can be used in practice.
Yang J, Christophi CA, Farioli A, et al. Association Between Push-up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e188341-e188341. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.8341