How many pushups can you do? The answer might provide surprisingly simple insight into your cardiovascular health, reports Quartz. In a 10-year study of firefighters, researchers found a strong correlation: Those who managed more than 40 pushups at annual physicals had a 96% lower risk of heart disease compared to those who could do more than 10. The study at JAMA Network Open provided other benchmarks: Pushup totals from 11 to 20 equated to a 64% lower risk, totals from 21 to 30 had an 84% lower risk, and totals from 31 to 40 had 75% lower risk, per Forbes. (No explanation is given why the 21-30 total seemed to convey a stronger benefit than the 31-40 level; possibly just a statistical blip.) The study followed 1,104 male firefighters in Indiana for a decade. Participants had a median age of 40 and a BMI of 28.7.
“Our findings provide evidence that push-up capacity could be an easy, no-cost method to help assess cardiovascular disease risk in almost any setting," says lead author Justin Yang of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in a statement. During the course of the study, 37 of the participants had some kind of heart trouble, notes USA Today, and Yang says the pushup test provided a more accurate gauge than the common treadmill test. Caveats? Plenty. It's a relatively small study of a specific group of men—no women were involved. More research would be needed to apply the test to other groups of people, including seniors. But researchers say the results are striking enough to suggest that a pushup test could someday become a routine part of a doctor's visit. (This CPR teacher was saved—during class.)