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How Push-Ups Can Lower Your Risk for Disease

How Push-Ups Can Lower Your Risk for Disease

Find out how this do-anywhere exercise can benefit your health.

In Rocky 1, Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) does 11 one-arm and clap-and-dip push-ups that give ferocious definition to his muscles and make clear he has amazing stamina!

The benefits of push-ups are confirmed by a study in JAMA Open Network. Researchers found push-up ability directly correlates with resistance to heart disease. They looked at more than 1,100 Indiana firefighters for 10 years and found that guys who were able to perform 40 push-ups had significantly lower risk for heart attack and stroke than their colleagues who were only able to complete less than 10 push-ups. And the study showed that at any level above 10, being able to do push-ups lowered the risk for hypertension and high levels of lousy LDL cholesterol and glucose. The study also found “cancer deaths were almost double in participants with poor compared to good functional capacity.”

Another recent study shows that taking the stairs can also give you solid clues to your heart—and overall—health. Researchers in Spain found that a person who can, without stopping, walk up three flights of stairs very quickly or four flights quickly (but not very quickly) is in excellent health, and has a lower risk for premature death from heart disease and cancer. If you can’t do that, the scientists add, it’s a solid indication you need to exercise more (make sure to talk with your doc before you start, though). So aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of activity a week—and hit the floor and give us 11!

Keep track of your progress with the Sharecare app for iOS and Android.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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