The beauty of push-ups is that you can do them anywhere, any time. The no-cost, no-hassle convenience is only one of the many benefits of push-ups, though. This body-weight strength-training exercise engages several muscle groups at the same time, helping you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones and manage blood sugar and blood pressure. Moreover, it was found that push-ups can be an indicator of cardiovascular disease.
Push-ups can measure cardiovascular risk, while strengthening important muscle group.
Measure Cardiovascular Risk
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, according to a 2019 study published in JAMA Network Open. But the researchers linked push-up capacity to a lower likelihood of cardiovascular disease, pointing to the potential of using this simple exercise to assess risk.
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The study found men who were able to complete more than 40 push-ups showed a significant reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease over 10 years as compared to those who completed fewer than 10 push-ups.
Strengthen All Major Muscle Groups
Push-ups work your whole body, engaging several muscle groups at the same time — the arms, chest, upper back, core, legs and hips. But why is that important? Why is muscle strength necessary? According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, muscle strength is needed to:
- Help sustain a healthy weight
- Strengthen bones
- Facilitate everyday movement
- Manage blood pressure and blood sugar
Certain studies have even pointed to the benefits of push-ups for specific muscle groups. For example, a 2014 study by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine reported that the standard push-up increases activation of the pectorals and the deltoids, the muscles attached to the front, side and rear of the shoulder.
Another study, published in 2016 by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, found that when the hands are situated halfway inward from their standard position, there's greater activity in the chest and triceps.
How to Do the Perfect Push-Up
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following form in order to properly execute a push-up:
- Place your hands on the mat, shoulder-width apart, fingers facing forward.
- Brace your torso and fully extend your body, so that you're in plank position. Make sure your head and spine are aligned.
- While keeping the same body position, slowly lower your body toward the mat while allowing your elbows to shift outward.
- Once your chest or chin has reached floor level, press upward through the arms until they're fully extended.
For proper alignment, ACE also suggests that your fingers face forward and are slightly turned inward, that your shoulders are situated right above your hands and that your torso is stiff so that your back doesn't sag.
- JAMA Network Open: "Association Between Push-Up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men"
- ACE: "Push-Up"
- NHS: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Rise of Push-Ups: A Classic Exercise That Can Help You Get Stronger"
- NCBI: Journal of Sports Science & Medicine: "Muscle Activation During Push-Ups With Different Suspension Training Systems"
- NCBI: Journal of Physical therapy Science: "Effect of the Push-Up Exercise at Different Palmar Width on Muscle Activities"