We would all like to have a crystal ball that could predict our health over the next decade. That way, you’d know exactly what areas to focus on to improve outcomes, right? Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health may have found the next best thing — pushups.
This simple test, designed by top researchers, that requires no equipment and that you can do it in the comfort of your own home, involves one task that they’ve found can reveal an awful lot about your future heart health. And it starts with one simple command…
Drop and give me 40 pushups
That’s the exact test the researchers used to determine the risk of heart disease down the road for 37 middle-aged men.
If like me, you’re having flashbacks to the horrors of gym class, stick with me for just a moment. It turns out that the number of pushups participants in the study were capable of doing provided a window to heart disease risk, including conditions like heart failure.
The Harvard team found that middle-aged men who could crank out more than 40 push-ups in a single try experienced a whopping 96 percent reduced risk of developing heart disease and its related health conditions over the next 10 years, compared to men who could make it through no more than 10 push-ups.
The researchers combed through mountains of health data, including annual checkups, on over 1,100 men who were active-duty firefighters for over a decade from 2000 to 2010. They also asked each participant to complete a pushup test as well as spend time on a treadmill.
And while poor results on the treadmill test didn’t show a clear link to a later diagnosis of heart disease, the inability to blast through at least 40 pushups definitely put participants into the higher risk category.
“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 the study’s first author, Justin Yang, an occupational medicine resident at the school.
How many pushups can you do?
So if you’re wondering how healthy your heart is, you might consider trying the pushup test.
And before you get too worried, the good news from the researchers is that since the original study was performed in men who were already extremely active, a lower number of pushups completed might still indicate heart disease protection for those of us who are less active or past middle age.
Just remember to use good body mechanics during your pushups to protect your shoulders. And if you have any joint injuries to your upper body, a different test might be the way to go.
Other at-home options that could reveal a higher risk of heart problems in your future include:
- Climbing stairs – A study out of Spain found that “If it takes you more than one-and-a-half minutes to ascend four flights of stairs, your health is suboptimal, and it would be a good idea to consult a doctor.”
- Looking in the mirror – Researchers from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Toulouse in France found that people with deeper forehead wrinkles were more likely to succumb to heart disease.
- Taking note of shoulder pain – Shoulder pain can often be less about sore muscles and more about heart disease risk. So if you’re living with sore, tight or painful shoulders, it’s time to take a look at your heart disease risk factors with your doctor.
Remember, heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in our country. So take note now of any heart troubles that may be in your future, so that you can practice prevention.
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Test your heart health by climbing stairs — ScienceDaily