March 11, 2008

Simple Push-Ups

Nothing surpasses the simple push-up as a measure of health and wellness.

The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigors of aging. Push-ups can provide the strength and muscle memory to reach out and break a fall.  In studies of falling, researchers have shown that the wrist alone is subjected to an impact force equal to about one body weight.  "What so many people really need to do is develop enough strength so they can break a fall safely without hitting their heads or hips on the ground," Dr. Ashton-Miller said. "If you can't do a single push-up, it's going to be difficult to resist that kind of loading on your wrists in a fall."

Based on national averages, a 40-year-old woman should be able to do 16 push-ups and a man the same age should be able to do 27. By the age of 60, those numbers drop to 17 for men and 6 for women. Those numbers are just slightly less than what is required of Army soldiers who are subjected to regular push-up tests.

If you are older and think you cannot do a push-up, look to 93 year-old fitness guru Jack Lalanne who once set the world record by doing over 1,000 pushups in 23 minutes.  Jack still does push-ups as part of his daily routine, with his feet on one chair and each hand on another chair so he can dip down even lower.  If a 93 year-old is doing that... surely we can do 30.

And don't call me Shirley.

Jack Lalanne in his prime.

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