The Grapevine

Push-Ups: What Are The Benefits?

How many push-ups can you do and what does that capacity tell you about your health? If you are a man, a recent Harvard study shed light on a possible link to heart health. More than 1,000 male firefighters were tested by researchers and followed up after a decade.

Those who could perform more than 40 push-ups during the timed test were found to have a 96 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular problems compared to those who could only perform up to 10 push-ups.  

"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. Surprisingly, push-up capacity was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease risk than the results of submaximal treadmill tests," first author Justin Yang of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said in a press release.

Being overweight is known to be a risk factor for heart disease as well as other health conditions like diabetes and certain types of cancer. Push-ups, which are categorized under body-resistance exercises, can help counter this by burning body fat and building lean muscle.

As we know, resistance training can also help in maintaining good bone health. Given that bone density naturally declines with age, push-ups are an effective way to reduce the risk of injury as they keep your bones strong.

They also do the same for your muscles, specifically by building core strength, according to Livestrong. By targeting your abs, obliques and lower back, this exercise is said to prevent back pain by promoting correct posture. But a lot of this comes down to using proper form - from making sure your back is flat to bending the elbows at a 45-degree angle.

Experts emphasize that push-ups involve strength and coordination from multiple parts of the body. "They challenge our pecs, our triceps, and [the back of the] shoulders, and require a good understanding of core and hip stability as well,” Rob Sulaver, the founding trainer at Rumble Boxing and founder/CEO of Bandana Training, told SELF.

Another benefit you can expect is the instant boost in your energy levels. In an article for Mind Body Green, performance enhancement specialist Nora Tobin explained how the move achieves this by improving circulation and building heat in your body, both of which can have a positive impact on your brain function.

Incorporating push-ups into your daily routine is easy as they do not require any equipment and can be modified as needed. If you are a beginner, you can start with having your knees on the ground. On the other hand, if you are experienced and would like to challenge yourself, you may consider performing weighted push-ups or clapping push-ups.