Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Can push ups help determine future heart disease events?

February 21, 2019


Heart disease remains the number one killer of both women and men in our country. Although the causes of heart disease are multifactorial in nature a significant percentage of known risk factors are modifiable. Abstaining from smoking, weight loss, nutrition, and exercise remain some of the most powerful ways to reduce your individual risk for heart disease including heart attack and stroke. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Americans reach minimum national standards for weekly exercise. As our country becomes more sedentary and obese heart disease will continue to be a major health problem. Consistent with any disease, emphasis is often placed on prevention of heart disease as a more effective and less costly option for tackling heart disease. A recent study identified a functional test that can be used to help identify those at risk of future heart disease.

Researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported on a retrospective analysis of heart disease events and push up ability (Yang et al. JAMA Network Open. 2019). Authors reviewed the cardiac history, anthrometric measurements, and functional testing of over 1100 participants. During the 10 year follow up 37 cardiovascular disease outcomes were reported. Authors reported a lower push up capacity was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease events. Participants who could perform > 40 push ups were at a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular risk compared to those who were unable to perform 10 reps. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and determine if this relationship is present in other patient populations.