Study: How many push ups you can do may indicate risk for heart disease

This story may have you doing a few push-ups. The exercise could be a sign of how healthy your heart is. Heart disease remains a top killer for Americans and the month of February is dedicated to raising awareness about the issue and educating Americans on what they can do to be heart healthy.

If you walk into CrossFit Mecklenburg you will find men and women pushing their individual limits growing stronger each time they workout.

You’ll find Ryan Murphy getting his reps in but it’s an exercise that doesn’t require equipment that may be getting results for his heart.

“I think it’s a great upper body workout and great for your heart,” said Murphy.

“You’ve got to take care of yourself. If you’re not doing something physically active you’re wasting time that you could be losing at the end of your life,” said Brendan McNeirney, the owner and coach at CrossFit Mecklenburg.

Push-ups are just one of the exercises McNeirney rotates through.

A Harvard study shows the number of push-ups a man can do may be a good indicator of his risk for heart disease. Researchers focused on a group of male firefighters. The participants who could do 40 or more push-ups had a lower risk of heart disease and those doing less than 10 had a higher risk.

“It’s not that we all have to be able to do 40 push-ups it’s that we want to emphasize the people who are fit have the best outcome,” said Atrium Health’s Director of Sports Cardiology Dr. Dermot Phelan. Phelan says push-ups are just one marker of heart health.

“A sedentary lifestyle has a bigger risk for your heart health than smoking or diabetes. Exercising regularly has a whole range of positive effects like reducing blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol,” said Phelan.

Authors say there is more research to be done on the topic and Phelan agrees. One fact he is confident about is that moving around matters. Push-ups are not necessary but any training is good.

“Try and do a little bit to get up and move because it makes a difference,” said Phelan.

Back in the gym, McNeirney says you can do anything you put your mind to.

“People will tell me they can’t do one push-up. I ask them how often they try and many don’t even attempt. If you don’t try you don’t get there. Do one push-up a day three times a day to build up your capacity because that’s how you get better,” said McNeirney.

Every minute in the gym, regardless of what he’s doing, means more time with the people who make Murphy’s heart happy.

“I have two kids. I love being with them and want to be able to do things with them,” said Murphy.