The Link Between Pushups and a Healthy Heart
Okay, we love pushups, but can they do more for you than improve your physique? Research suggests that there is a link between doing pushups and the overall health of your heart.
What is heart health?
The heart is pretty amazing. It is in charge of the body’s cardiovascular system, which regulates your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. Essentially, your heart is the pump that sends blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients, to all parts of your body, and carries away the waste. To accomplish this, it beats around 100,000 times per day, pushing about 5 liters (8 pints) of blood around your body!
When the heart isn’t healthy, we become susceptible to a host of health problems - high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Plaque builds up in the blood vessels and arteries, creating blockages that restrict blood distribution. This means lessened amounts of oxygen and nutrients moving through the body.
So the need for heart health is obvious, but what does that have to do with pushups?
Related: What Muscles Do Pushups Work
Usually, a doctor determines the health of your cardiovascular system by testing you on a treadmill, following the logic that the heart’s performance can be assessed during this high-intensity workout. This cardio stress test checks blood flow and cardiac electrical activity, letting the doctor and the patient know how well the heart is working.
Newer research has found that there may be a better indicator of heart health. Researchers examined over 1,000 firefighters aged between 30 and 48 years. Over a 10-year follow-up period, they found that those who had higher pushup capacity (could do more than 40 pushups) had a 96% reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease as compared to their counterparts who could complete less than ten pushups.
In previous studies, muscular strength was usually found to be a contributing factor in determining heart health. Muscular strength was found to have a protective effect in healthy males.
Unfortunately, this study only included men, so we don’t have numbers on how these findings relate to women (or men who aren’t firefighters).
Interestingly, those who had higher pushup capacity had lower risks of cardiovascular diseases than those who had strong showings on the treadmill test. And although the findings warn that the pushup is not an independent assessor of heart health, there is a definite link. Additional factors include age, body mass index (BMI), and physical fitness level.
If you’re ready to learn more about building your fitness routine, check out PushApp today!
What about fitness tests?
If there’s one thing that we can derive from this new research, it’s that when we’re assessing heart health, we have to consider more than the apparent fitness abilities.
During a regular doctor’s visit, a treadmill may or may not be available. These tests are time consuming and expensive, which is why they aren’t done routinely. But pushups require no special equipment. They can be performed in almost any place and at any time.
Obviously, pushups aren’t the sole determinant of heart health. People with injuries, physical disabilities, or those who lack the upper body strength can find it difficult or even impossible to do a pushup.
Related: How Many Calories Do Pushups Burn?
Some other benefits of pushups
So you’ve decided that you want to try pushups. Here are some of their other benefits.
Pushups activate the whole body. It might appear that they are just an upper body exercise, but it’s not so. A pushup done with correct form will engage and strengthen muscles in your whole body, making it a compound exercise.
Pushups will increase your whole body muscle definition. The exercise causes a large amount of human growth hormone (HGH) to be released, maximizing the size of your muscles.
Pushups strengthen your biceps and back muscles. As you lower your body to the floor, you stretch your back muscles, and when you push back up, you stretch your biceps. Well-stretched muscles are more attractive and more flexible.
Pushups will improve your posture. To stabilize your body in the pushup, your core is strengthened. A strong core keeps your body in correct alignment. This is a well-known passive benefit of pushups.
Pushups protect you from injury. They strengthen the primary and secondary shoulder muscles, thus saving you from shoulder injuries. Pushups also protect against lower back injuries by strengthening your entire torso.
How to build up to 40 pushups
If you aren’t already there, how do you build up to 40 strong pushups?
1 First, figure out where you’re beginning. Set a timer for 2 minutes and see how many pushups you can do in that time.
For a pushup to count, you must go all the way down (chest about 2 inches from the floor), pause, and lock your elbows out at the top. The rest of your body should remain firm and as straight as possible.
2 Now take the number of pushups you could do in 2 minutes and divide it by three. Now you have a baseline for how many reps you can do per set. That means for each workout, you’ll do three sets of this number of pushups, with a 30-second rest between sets.
3 Perform pushups as frequently as hourly or as a part of a whole workout three times per week. Whichever way you decide to do your pushups, add reps to your sets each week. Adding just 2 or 3 reps per week can quickly increase the number you’re able to do successively without pause.
5 Learn to do different kinds of pushups. By varying your hand placement or body position, you can alternate between different levels of intensity. It will also keep you from getting bored of the exercise.
If you’re serious about doing more pushups, visit PushApps! We’ll have you heart-healthy and strong in no time.
There is a clear link between pushups and a healthy heart. Pushups are an excellent way to achieve full-body strength, define your muscles, and push yourself to the max. The benefits of this exercise extend beyond what the eye can see.