If you’ve taken up running in 2020, here’s a good reason to train for a marathon…

New research from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that for first-time marathon runners, training for a marathon was associated with reductions in blood pressure and aortic stiffening equivalent to a four-year reduction in vascular age.

The greatest benefits were seen in older, slower male marathon runners with higher baseline blood pressure.

“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,” says senior author Charlotte H. Manisty, MD, of the Institute of Cardiovascular Science at University College London and Barts Heart Centre in London.

“Our study highlights the importance of lifestyle modifications to slow the risks associated with ageing, especially as it appears to never be too late as evidenced by our older, slower runners.”

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Any amount of running boosts your lifespan

Arterial stiffness linked to dementia

Arterial stiffening is a normal part of ageing.

However, it also increases cardiovascular risk in otherwise healthy individuals by contributing to increased pulse pressure and ventricular overload, which are associated with dementia and cardiovascular and kidney diseases, even in the absence of plaque in the arteries.

Running helps you live longer… and it doesn’t have to be a marathon

The study

Researchers looked at 138 healthy, first-time marathon runners from the 2016 and 2017 London Marathon.

On average, participants were 37 years old and 49% were male. Their average marathon running time was 5,4 hours for women and 4,5 hours for men.

Training decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by four and three mmHg, respectively. Overall, aortic stiffness reduced with training and was most pronounced in the distal aorta with increases in distensibility – the capacity to swell with pressure – of nine percent. This amounted to the equivalent of an almost four-year reduction in ‘aortic age’.

“Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of ageing 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 marathon times are suggestive of achievable exercise training in novice participants,” says Dr Manisty.

Source: American College of Cardiology via www.sciencedaily.com

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