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Mercola Staff Takes the Pushup Challenge

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • The number of pushups you can complete appears to be an accurate way to gauge your heart health, as well as your fitness level
  • A recent study found that male participants who were able to complete more than 40 pushups at the start of the study had a 96 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events, compared to those who could do less than 10 pushups
  • Pushups raise your metabolic rate to help you burn fat and lose weight. They also help build your muscular strength, which in turn helps you to ward off cardiometabolic risks

If you subscribe to the Mercola newsletter, you may have read this article a few weeks ago that highlighted a recent study on a possible link between pushups and heart disease. The study, which was conducted by Harvard's School of Public Health and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,1 involved 1,100 male firefighters with an average age of 40. They completed pushup capacity and submaximal treadmill exercise tolerance tests.

During 10 years of follow-up, the men underwent annual physical exams and completed health questionnaires. Researchers found that those who were able to complete more than 40 pushups at the start of the study had a 96 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events, compared to those who could do less than 10 pushups.

Men who could do 11 or more pushups, but less than 40, also experienced a reduced risk of heart health problems, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure and sudden cardiac death. Men who could complete between 21 and 30 pushups had only 25 percent of the heart problems, compared to the 10 and under group.

3-Minute Pushup Challenge Accepted

pushup challenge

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

The study highlights that the number of pushups you can complete appears to be an accurate way to gauge your heart health, as well as your fitness level. After learning this, several members of the Mercola staff agreed to be put to the test. They set a time limit of three minutes, and aimed to do as many pushups as they could before the timer ran out. If you haven't already, press "play" on the video above to see how their challenge went!

Think you have what it takes to try the pushup challenge yourself? Gauge your heart health and fitness level by performing your own pushup challenge at home! Set a timer for three minutes and perform your pushups, resting as needed. From there send your challenge video to [email protected].

Pushups Can Benefit You in Many Ways

Pushups simultaneously work multiple muscle groups at a time, including your chest muscles, shoulders, the backs of your arms, abdominals and the serratus anterior, or the muscles under your armpits. Performing a typical pushup will require you to lift 50 to 75 percent of your body weight,2 helping build strength in your upper body and core.3

What's more, pushups raise your metabolic rate to help you burn fat and lose weight. Because this type of weight-bearing exercise requires a high level of physical exertion when performed properly, it can help you build stronger bones and ward off osteoporosis.

Pushups also help build your muscular strength, which in turn helps you to ward off cardiometabolic risks. Having a higher level of muscular strength is said to have a protective effect on premature death from any cause and high blood pressure in men, according to previous research. It's also linked to a lower risk of cancer mortality, metabolic syndrome and age-related weight and fat gain.4

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How to Perform a Pushup Correctly

Remember to keep the correct form throughout the challenge to reap the health benefits and prevent injury. To perform a pushup correctly:

  1. Get on your knees and place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Flatten your palms and point your fingers forward.
  2. Keep your toes on the floor and your elbows straight, but not locked. Your knees, hips, back and shoulders should also be kept straight.
  3. Bend your elbows until your chest is an inch or so from the ground. Make sure your head remains in a natural position with your chin tucked in. Look no more than 6 inches in front of your body to help keep your head and neck in the correct position.
  4. Straighten your elbows and push your body into the starting position. Your knees, hips and back should be straight and aligned.

How Many Pushups Should You Be Able to Do at Your Age?

Please note that the recommended number of pushups noted above were for the particular age group that the study targeted. If you would like to know how many pushups would be recommended for you at your age and fitness level, this chart from the "American College of Sports Medicine's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription" may be a good place to start:5

pushup by age and sex
Source: "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription," page 101

If you find that your number of repetitions do not measure up with what's in the chart, don't be disappointed. As you continue doing this workout, you will gradually improve and become fitter, and will be able to reach the recommended repetitions. What's important is that you're taking the right step to make improvements in your fitness level.