• Mayo Clinic Minute: Can pushups predict your health?

Basic exercise, specifically the pushup, can be a useful tool for clinicians who want to evaluate cardiovascular disease risk in patients, according to a recent study in JAMA. But is your risk of heart disease really as simple as measuring how many pushups you can do? Not really, according to one Mayo Clinic exercise expert.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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Drop and give me 20. But will pushups add 20 years to your life?

"I don't think there's anything magical about a pushup," says Dr. Michael Joyner, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist and physiologist. "What I think the study shows is that people who are physically fit, physically active and have some muscle mass have better health outcomes than people who don't."

Dr. Joyner says pushups build muscle strength and can be an easy exercise that you can do at an incline against a table, the kitchen counter or on your knees. But the most important part of staying healthy is staying active.

"Some recent studies have shown that when people go from an inactive or unfit category to a fit category in middle age as a result of exercise training, their health status improves," says Dr. Joyner.

And most everyone can find some sort of physical activity that is safe and enjoyable.

"People begin to see a benefit with as little as 10 minutes a day of just going out for a stroll. So do something. Try to build some physical activity and steps into your activities of daily living," says Dr. Joyner.

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