I had to take a ‚Push Up Test‚ for my Physical Activity class in spring at Harvard to learn about my level of so-called ‚functional health‚, which is important for everyday activities and mobility. Yes, you got it right: It’s not all about writing at Harvard University, and nice for a change to get active. A 2020- medical study from the UK says that physical activity and fitness is on the decline in the pandemic, so upholding functional health might be good advice.
“Preserving bone, joint, and muscle health is essential with increasing age”, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans(2018, p. 38). To counteract this decline of functional health through muscle strength and endurance during life span, official medical guidelines in countries like the US or UK include recommendations for muscle strength training like resistance training at least twice a week for adults and older adults.
Why resistance training is important
In their 2019-medical review, the authors Mcleod et al. highlight the importance of resistance exercise training (RET) “in reducing risk of several chronic diseases” ( 2019, p.1) like mobility disability, Type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. In combatting these chronic diseases, the authors stress the following mechanisms of RET as beneficial for:
muscle mass and strength
improvement of body composition
physical function and mobility
blood glucose and insulin sensitivity
immune system function
blood lipid profile
vascular function (see: Mcleod et al., 2019, p.2).
Push-up test how-to
Push-ups are a muscle strength exercise, also called resistance training – a workout to counteract the decline of functional health. The push-up test will tell you more about your level of muscular strength and endurance – and about when you feel that fatigue in your chest muscle that makes you give up.
If you want to find out about your performance at push-ups, go to ExRx.net. The test comes with a tutorial for male/female participants, making it easier for us girls (straight legs with foot support for men, knee support for women). The tutorial video shows you how to do it right, which is lowering your body (straight back, muscles tight) all the way down until your belly touches the floor.
Call me a sissy, but I stuck with the girls’ mode.
BTW: I was rated ‘Excellent’ in the ExRx.net Push Up Test. You can watch my performance on our Glamourjungle_blog Instagram account.
Push-ups and more resistance training
For a resistance training routine for all major muscle groups, I highly recommend The 9-Minute Strength Workout of The New York Times. It comprises a full-body workout including pushups.
Pushups are part of the 9-Minute Strength Workout of The New York Times; they belong to set#1 along with bodyweight squads and mountain climbers, set#2 consists of forearm planks, bodywweight split squad and single leg hip raise; set #3 includes burpees with push-ups, single-leg toe touches and leg raises. Beginners start with 1 minute per exercise (intermediate 2 minutes, advanced 3 minutes) and take a 1-minute break between sets.
All pictures taken by Gerda Friedel (2021)
Church, T. S. (2020). The Underappreciated Synergy of Strength Training. Obesity, 28(2), 224. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22702
ExRx.net : Push Up Test. (2021). ExRx.Net. https://exrx.net/Calculators/PushUps
Mcleod, J. C., Stokes, T., & Phillips, S. M. (2019). Resistance Exercise Training as a Primary Countermeasure to Age-Related Chronic Disease. Frontiers in Physiology, 10, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00645
Physical activity for adults and older adults. (2019). UK Chief Medical Officer. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/829884/3-physical-activity-for-adults-and-older-adults.pdf
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. (2018). https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf