Becoming proficient at pushups — being able to do 40 or more — does more than help strengthen your upper body. It also might help stave off cardiovascular problems, especially if you're a man.
That was the finding of a study, led by doctors at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, that compared the cardiovascular health of 1,104 active adult men over a 10-year span. All participants were firefighters, with an average age of 40.
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At the start of the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, they had a physical exam and testing that included doing pushups. In the next decade, 37 of the men experienced a cardiovascular problem, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure or sudden cardiac death. Those who had done 11 or more pushups at the start of the study were less likely to have had a subsequent cardiovascular problem than were men who did 10 or fewer. And the higher their fitness level, based on how many pushups they could do, the lower their rate of cardiovascular incidents.
Those able to do more than 40 pushups experienced the greatest risk reduction — a 96 percent reduced risk of heart trouble in comparison to those who were able to do only 10 or fewer. Whether the finding would apply to other groups — women, older people and those who are less active — was not tested.
Pushups earn praise from fitness experts for a range of reasons. Doing push-ups works muscles throughout your body, builds your core strength and burns calories. Plus, you can do them anywhere, anytime, with no need for a gym membership or special equipment.
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Float spas, where users are suspended in a salty bath, started popping up in Omaha in 2016. Spa-goers enter a private float tank nearly double the size of a bathtub. Hundreds of pounds of Epsom salt have been dissolved in the shallow pool of water so people float on top. Proponents say floating reduces muscle and joint pain, shortens recovery time from athletic training or injuries, relieves stress and increases creativity. Click here to read a World-Herald story on float spas.
If you've been dreaming of dribbling a soccer ball while encased in a plastic bubble, you're in luck. That trend made its way to Omaha in 2015. The game can be tough — experienced players tumble right alongside first-timers. Click here to read a World-Herald story on bubble soccer.
Local yogis can find their flow among a tribe of baby goats. Two dairies in Honey Creek, Iowa, started offering the classes in 2018. The goat yoga trend started in Oregon in 2016 and has since swept most of the country. The wandering goats add some levity to yoga, known for improving flexibility and decreasing stress. Click here to read a previous World-Herald story on goat yoga.
Kickball isn't just for kids. Adult kickball leagues have joined the mix of recreational sports in Omaha, much like sand volleyball and softball. The sport gets players moving, but it doesn't feel like a grueling workout. Some kickballers called it "exercise in disguise." Click here to read a World-Herald story on kickball.
Ballet-inspired workouts made their way to the Omaha area back in 2014. The city is home to handful of studios purely devoted to the workouts, which combine yoga, Pilates and ballet movements performed on a dance barre. Some local gyms and fitness studios offer the classes, too. Instructors said the classes are fun and motivating. Click here to read a World-Herald story on barre.
Rowing isn't new, but it's made a splash on the local fitness scene. The exercise machines had fallen out of favor thanks to treadmills, weight rooms and group exercise classes. But they've been reintroduced through fitness trends like CrossFit and Orangetheory. At least two local studios have debuted classes built around the machines. Click here to read a World-Herald story on rowing.
Participants — wearing minimal clothing — stand in a chamber that looks like an aluminum can and grows colder over two to three minutes using liquid nitrogen. The temperature drops to between negative 200 and 240 degrees. Proponents say the high-tech ice baths reduce inflammation, relieve pain, prevent injury, increase energy and speed healing. The practice also has been credited for cosmetic benefits. But some medical professionals are skeptical. Click here to read a World-Herald story on cryotherapy.
Exercisers bask in glowing orange lights and blaring upbeat music at Orangetheory Fitness. The metro area now is home to a handful of the studios, which got their start in Florida in 2009. During the classes, a trainer leads people through a circuit-style workout that rotates between treadmills, rowing machines and a strength area with free weights. Members wear heart rate monitors to track their efforts during a workout. Click here to read a World-Herald story on Orangetheory Fitness.
Pound classes debuted in Omaha in 2015. The classes are a full-body strength and cardio workout that simulates drumming. Exercisers pound the drumsticks in the air, against each other and on the ground while performing strength exercises like squats and lunges. Click here to read a World-Herald story on Pound.
Aerial yoga blends yoga poses with acrobatics. Yogis practice in hammocks, flipping upside-down. It incorporates stretching and strength exercises, cardio and meditation. Instructors say the class is good for the spine, alleviating pressure — although there are some risks, and the class isn't for everyone. Click here to read a World-Herald story on aerial yoga.
Heart rate monitors are a standard part of curriculum for some metro high school students. They've also made an appearance in several boutique gyms. Teachers at Mercy High School said wearing the monitors prep students for a lifetime of fitness. Click here to read a World-Herald story on the monitors.