Training and completing a marathon or a fun run will lower blood pressure, decease arterial stiffening, and reverse the aging of blood vessels, a new study has found.
First-time marathon runners, after training and completing the run, had a 4-year reduction in cardiovascular aging.
Artery stiffness is a sign of aging and also increases the risk of cardiovascular and kidney disease.
Routine aerobic exercise has been shown to have positive effects on heart health and to increase longevity.
Dr Charlotte H. Manisty, the study’s senior author, said:
“As clinicians are meeting with patients in the new year, making a goal-oriented exercise training recommendation — such as signing up for a marathon or fun-run — may be a good motivator for our patients to keep active.
Our study highlights the importance of lifestyle modifications to slow the risks associated with aging, especially as it appears to never be too late as evidenced by our older, slower runners.”
This study focused on the effect of long distance running on the vascular health of 138 healthy adults who had no previous marathon experience.
The researchers wanted to see if this type of exercise can reduce blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
Also, if it reverses age-related aortic stiffening, in other words reduces the ageing of blood vessel.
During the 6 months of training for the London Marathon their hearts were scanned to measure aortic stiffness.
The aorta is the main artery that takes blood from the heart to the body.
Participants went through a “Beginner’s Training Plan” which involved three runs a week for 17 weeks before the event.
Marathon training led to a reduction in blood pressure by 4 mmHg and reduced stiffness of the descending aorta.
The descending aorta is a part of aorta and runs down through the chest and abdomen.
The decrease in arterial stiffness was 9 percent which is equivalent to 4 years reduction in vascular age.
The cardiovascular health benefits were greater in older participants and those who were slower runners and less fit.
Dr Manisty said:
“Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of aging on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just six months.
These benefits were observed in overall healthy individuals across a broad age range and their times are suggestive of achievable exercise training in novice participants.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Bhuva et al., 2020).