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It’s the time of year when everyone’s setting ambitious goals. And there’s one you might want to consider…
Running a marathon.
I know. I know. Running a marathon is hard. It takes months of training, steadfast commitment, and buckets of sweat.
I’ll be honest… It’s never appealed to me. Maybe because I can barely run a measly mile. But I get why people do it.
There’s something satisfying about pushing your limits. Plus, it motivates you to get in shape. If you have a marathon on the calendar, you can’t afford to miss a single workout. But there may be an even better reason to run a marathon than that…
Running a marathon could reverse aging in one important way.
Running a marathon makes your blood vessels age in reverse
A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that running a marathon for the first time comes with significant perks — like a major reduction in vascular age.
In case you don’t know, your vascular age is the “age” of your arteries based on the condition they’re in. You could be sixty with the arteries of an eighty-year-old, or vice versa. As you can imagine, your vascular age is pretty important, because it impacts your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In this study, researchers examined data from a group of 138 healthy, first-time marathon runners. They looked at participants’ health measurements before they started training for the marathon and again one to three weeks after they ran the marathon.
Researchers took blood pressure measurements and tested aortic stiffness using cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging. They also calculated the participants’ vascular age. And guess what?
Running a marathon improved all three. People who trained for and ran a marathon decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4 and 3 mmHg. They decreased aortic stiffness. And, as a result, they reduced vascular age. Do you know the best part?
Older people experienced the most dramatic benefits. So did people with the slowest marathon times. So, you don’t have to be young and ultra-fit to benefit from a marathon. In fact, you’ll experience more benefits if you’re not.
“Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of aging on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just six months,” said senior study author Charlotte H. Manisty, MD. “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.”
Is a marathon your thing?
So, should you run a marathon even if it sounds more excruciating than that time you closed the car door on your finger?
I hate to say it… but the answer may be yes — if you can.
In this study, first-time marathon runners followed the “Beginner’s Training Plan.” They ran about three times per week in the seventeen weeks leading up to the marathon. And these runs got increasingly harder as time went on.
Obviously that’s not for everybody. If you or your doctor don’t think it’s a good idea for you, there are other less strenuous ways you can help take care of your arteries — and it’s likely tied to why researchers saw the great results they did in the marathon study…
According to Harvard Health, regular exercise helps arteries by boosting the endothelial cells’ (cells lining the inside of arteries) nitric oxide production. And in some studies with mice, it also stimulated bone marrow to produce endothelial progenitor cells (like stem cells) that entered the bloodstream to replace aging endothelial cells and repair damaged arteries.
So how could you possibly get those benefits if you can’t exercise so much?
Beets could certainly help. Beets help the body produce nitric oxide, the same nutrient boosted by exercise that helps keep the arterial lining smooth and slippery. You might think of it like collagen for your joints and skin.
A marathon may garner a quicker response in your arteries, but if that’s out of the question, consider a brisk daily walk and a helping of beets — or beet juice. As popular as nitric oxide has become in health and sports, powdered beet drinks are readily available and easier to prepare.
Editor’s note: Have you heard of EDTA chelation therapy? It was developed originally to remove lead and other contaminants, including heavy metals, from the body. Its uses now run the gamut from varicose veins to circulation. Click here to discover Chelation: Natural Miracle for Protecting Your Heart and Enhancing Your Health!
- New marathon runners reduced blood pressure, arterial stiffness equivalent to a 4-year reduction in vascular age — MedicalXpress
- Training for a First-Time Marathon Reverses Age-Related Aortic Stiffening — Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- How old are your arteries? — Harvard Health Publishing