Harvard Men's Health Watch

Why push-ups help beat aging

This old-school exercise offers a real-time assessment of your strength and motivates you to improve your fitness.

push-ups help beat aging
Image: kieferpix/ iStock

Push-ups have long been the symbol of optimal fitness. They are still used by the U.S. Army and the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge to assess strength and endurance.

For older men, the simple push-up can be used as a snapshot of their current fitness. "Push-ups are the classic bread-and-butter exercise," says Dr. Edward Phillips of Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. "How many you can do at one time offers a measurement of your strength and is an easy tool to help you improve. You can do them anywhere and at any time, and only need a few minutes."

Challenge yourself

Push-up challenges are trendy nowadays—can you do a certain number of push-ups in 30 days, or even a week? Or can you reach a specific goal like doing 10 or more nonstop? "Challenges are a fun way to set up mini, short-term goals, which many men need to stay focused on their fitness," says. Dr. Phillips. Create your own challenge and see if you can reach it. Begin small, like hitting your foundation number for a week or two, and then set the bar higher.

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