Long-Distance Running Could Reverse Heart Aging, Help You Live Longer

Long-Distance Running Could Reverse Heart Aging, Help You Live Longer

Darwin Malicdem  | 

Training for a marathon impacts health long after race day is over

Training for and running a marathon has been found to help reverse the heart’s biological age and improve cardiovascular health, reversing some of the effects of aging. A new study shows long-distance running could reduce the heart’s biological age by four years and improve cardiovascular health. 

The findings, published in The American Journal of Cardiology, come from the analysis of data from 138 first-time marathon runners. Researchers said that running a marathon reduces aortic stiffness, a condition where the major heart artery becomes inflexible and with less blood pressure, Inverse reported Monday.

People who get a younger-looking heart because of running are also less likely to experience a stroke. The risk may drop by nearly 10 percent because of the improved blood pressure.

“Although these changes may appear small, they are likely to be clinically meaningful,” Charlotte Manisty, senior study author and senior lecturer at the University College London, told Inverse.

Manisty and her colleagues followed the participants prior to the 2016 and 2017 London Marathon events. Each event was the first time of the participants to join a marathon.

Researchers asked them to join a 17-week beginner’s training plan to prepare for the events. The team noted they allowed the participants to train unsupervised and do more training if they wanted to. 

Results showed that men experience greater benefits of running. Running significantly reduced their aortic stiffness and made their heart 1.4 years younger than those of women. 

Marathon also reversed vascular aging in older marathoners, aged 37 and older. The changes occurred even in people who did not execute an extremely intense training plan. 

“By completing training, and getting to the finish line, it is possible to rejuvenate the cardiovascular system of first-time marathon runners,” first study author Anish Bhuva said at the European Cardiology Society meeting. “You don’t have to be an elite athlete to gain the benefits from marathon running. In fact, the benefits appeared greatest in those who were older and slower.”

However, the researchers noted they did not determine the exact level or how much exercise is needed to see the benefits of marathons. Federal health officials recommend that people do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical exercise to improve health. 

Experts also suggest just 10 minutes of light exercise each day can improve mental health.

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