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Marathon Can Reverse Aging of Blood Vessels

Training for and completing a first-time marathon reverses ageing of major blood vessels, according to a study which found that the older and slower runners benefit the most.

A hallmark of normal ageing is stiffening of the blood vessels, which increases the risk of stroke and heart disease even in healthy people. Compared to their peers, lifelong athletes have biologically younger blood vessels, researchers said. The study investigated whether training for a marathon could modify aortic stiffness even in novice runners.

“Novice runners who trained for six months and completed their first marathon had a four-year reduction in arterial age and a four mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure,” said Anish Bhuva, from the University College London in the UK. “This is comparable to the effect of medication, and if maintained translates to approximately 10 per cent lower risk of stroke over a lifetime,” Bhuva said.
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