Is It Safe to Do Push-Ups Everyday?

Two senior men at side of infinity pool, one doing press-ups
A senior man is doing a push up. (Image: Adam Pretty/Photodisc/Getty Images)

It has become common for people to spend exorbitant amounts of money on weightlifting equipment, only to let those products sit dormant in their homes. According to fitness expert Bruce Cohn, your own body is as good as any weightlifting products. Old "stand-by" exercises, such as the push-up, provide a great workout and have distinct advantages over weightlifting techniques.

Daily Push-Ups

When you exercise, you tear muscle fibers and need to give them time to rebuild. Most fitness experts suggest you wait 48 hours before working the same muscles in the same routine, but former Navy SEAL and fitness expert Stew Smith found this waiting period isn't necessary for the push-up. He noticed every branch of the military incorporated daily push-ups in their boot camp training and it usually improved their fitness. Smith's "Push-Up Push Workout" involves 10 days of 200 daily push-ups, followed by three days of no push-ups.

It appears, however, that doing daily push-ups without the three-day break is perfectly safe, as demonstrated by a California man named Bill Wewer. In 2010, The Orange County Register reported Wewer had been doing daily push-ups since his retirement 32 years before. "His goal," the paper reported, "is always to do half as many push-ups as his age."

Benefits

When you lift weights, you isolate which muscles get worked out. The push-up "tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in the arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs," according to Tara Parker-Pope, writing for the Fitness and Nutrition section of The New York Times. Wewer credits his daily push-up routine with his mental acuity at age 92. Parker-Pope notes another benefit push-ups give people as they age: they train the body's muscle memory in such a way that older people are more easily able to use their hands and arms to prevent themselves from getting hurt when they fall.

Types

The traditional push-up involves holding yourself up from the floor by your hands, with your toes curled forward so that the balls of your feet are touching the floor. You then lower your body until your nose almost touches the floor, then lift yourself up again, keeping your body in a straight line.

You can modify the exercise to make it easier or more challenging. For an easier push-up workout, rest your knees on the floor instead of supporting your weight with the balls of your feet, or do the push-up motion against a wall, standing with your feet flat on the ground. More challenging exercises involve tilting your body by putting your feet on a raised object while your hands are on the floor. One-armed push-ups also intensify the workout.

Health Barometer

According to the New York Times, a 40-year-old man should be able to do 27 push-ups and a woman of 40 should be able to do 16. By the age of 60, the minimum number drops by 10 -- 17 for a man and 6 for a woman. In 2001, researchers at East Carolina University found that about half of the 10 to 13 year old boys they studied, and 3/4 of the girls, could not pass a basic push-up test.

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