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Fitness & Health

17th Feb 2019

The more press ups you can do, the lower your chances of suffering a heart attack

According to a new Harvard University study, you are 97% less likely to suffer a heart attack if you can do more than 40 press ups.

Alex Roberts

Press ups are one of the finest shows of bodyweight strength, but it turns out they’re also a pretty good predictor of health risks, too

According to a new Harvard University study, the more press ups you can perform, the lower your chances of having a heart attack.

Considering heart disease is the number one leading cause of death worldwide, this is a bold find.

Scientists took over a thousand firefighters from the US state of Indiana. Their press up capacities and treadmill running performance were tested.

The firefighters were then followed for the next decade.

In those who could perform 40 or more press ups, there was a 97 per cent reduced risk of future heart attacks and heart disease.

However, in those who could only manage 10 or less, there was a much higher risk of heart attacks.

Perfect your press ups

Justin Yang, the study’s lead author, said: “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.”

You might have assumed that cardio training was the best test for your heart health. That is not what this study found, says Yang.

“Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests.”

Related: Three ways press ups can help you build more muscle

Press up ability is a strong indicator of general health and fitness levels. If you can perform lots of press ups, you are more likely to be generally healthy. It is this which likely explains the link to a lower risk of heart attacks.

Press ups are also a true test for your chest, shoulder and tricep strength.

Aim to be able to complete at least 25-30 pain-free push ups before considering moving on to advanced pressing movements such as the bench press, weighted dip and overhead press.

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