MAY 03, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

Marathon Training Reduces Your Heart's Age

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A recent study has shown that first-time marathon runners significantly improved their heart health by following a relatively low-intensity six-month training program.

In the study, 138 first-time marathon runners participated in a beginner training program for the London Marathon (available here). Their ages ranged from 21 to 69, and none had a history of cardiovascular disease or ran for more than two hours per week before the study. The participants had their central blood pressure and aortic stiffness measured before they started training, and both quantities were measured again two weeks after the marathon.

The measurements showed that participants decreased their blood pressure and aortic stiffness significantly over the six months of training. Their improvements were equivalent to about a four-year reduction in vascular age, with older and slower runners seeing the greatest benefits

Aging is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but we can influence the effective “age” of our vascular systems through lifestyle choices like diet and exercise. Our arteries tend to harden over time, which increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and more, but several studies have shown that exercise can reduce aortic stiffening. This study showed just how much of an influence exercise can have. One of the study authors noted that he was not a runner before the study, but he decided to start running after seeing the results.

Regular exercise is a key to heart health as well as overall health and wellbeing. While the beginning training program used in the study was relatively approachable, other forms of exercise are likely to have similar benefits. A good goal is to meet the recommendations of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which suggest aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Sources: JACC, NPR, TCS London Marathon, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

 
About the Author
PhD in Biophysics
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
You May Also Like
FEB 19, 2022
Health & Medicine
The Search for Genetic Links in Sudden Unexplained Child Deaths
FEB 19, 2022
The Search for Genetic Links in Sudden Unexplained Child Deaths
Sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC), similar to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), occurs when children betwe ...
MAR 15, 2022
Cardiology
Muscle-Strengthening Exercises Lower Risk of Death
MAR 15, 2022
Muscle-Strengthening Exercises Lower Risk of Death
Most research has focused on the benefits of aerobic exercise; a new study shows that muscle strengthening also lowers r ...
MAR 31, 2022
Cardiology
Light Exposure While Sleeping is Linked to Cardiovascular Issues
MAR 31, 2022
Light Exposure While Sleeping is Linked to Cardiovascular Issues
Even moderate light at night can impact health and sleep quality.
MAR 31, 2022
Cancer
New Study Finds No Link between Childhood Obesity and Thyroid Cancer
MAR 31, 2022
New Study Finds No Link between Childhood Obesity and Thyroid Cancer
The incidence of thyroid cancer among children has been increasing over recent decades. Similarly, cases of childhood ob ...
JUL 18, 2022
Neuroscience
Lifestyle, More than Age, May Predict Dementia Risk
JUL 18, 2022
Lifestyle, More than Age, May Predict Dementia Risk
Multiple lifestyle risk factors for dementia may predict dementia risk more than age. The corresponding study was publis ...
AUG 06, 2022
Technology
Wearable Devices More Cost Effective Way to Screen for Atrial Fibrillation
AUG 06, 2022
Wearable Devices More Cost Effective Way to Screen for Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition characterized by abnormal, fast heart beats, affects an estimated five million peo ...
Loading Comments...