Running for Your Health

With summer approaching fast we can all use a little motivation to get out and exercise before hitting the beach. The weather is already beautiful here at Hancock International College, so here is a little extra motivation to get out and run. For our international students you’re in a new country maybe you need a new hobby if you are physically up to it (it’s always best to consult with your doctor). Without further delay check out how training for a marathon can improve your blood vessels. says, “Training for and completing a first-time marathon ‘reverses’ aging of major blood vessels, according to an exciting new research. The study, which was conducted by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), also found that older and slower runners benefit the most. ‘Novice runners who trained for six months and completed their first marathon had a four-year reduction in arterial age and a 4 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure,’ said study author Dr. Anish Bhuva, a British Heart Foundation Fellow at University College London, UK. ‘This is comparable to the effect of medication, and if maintained translates to approximately 10% lower risk of stroke over a lifetime,’ he added.

A hallmark of normal aging 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. This study investigated whether training for a marathon could modify aortic stiffness even in novice runners. The study included 139 healthy first-time marathon runners aged 21 to 69 years who were advised to follow a first-time finisher training program and ran an estimated 6 to 13 miles (10 to 20 kilometers) a week for six months ahead of completing the 2016 or 2017 London Marathon. Before they started training and two weeks after completing the marathon, participants had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound scans of the heart and blood vessels, a fitness test, and measurements of blood pressure and heart rate. Biological age of the aorta was calculated at both time points.

After completing the marathon, aortic stiffness had reduced and the aorta was four years younger than before training. Older participants and those with longer marathon finish times had greater reductions in aortic stiffness after training. Reductions in aortic stiffness were independent of changes in blood pressure. ‘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,’ said Dr. Bhuva. ‘By completing training, and getting to the finish line, it is possible to rejuvenate the cardiovascular system of first-time marathon runners.’ Fitness improved and heart rate dropped after training – both to a modest extent. ‘The minimal impact on these conventional markers of health suggests that study participants trained within their personal limits,’ said Dr. Bhuva. ‘Aortic stiffness and blood pressure changed more than fitness and heart rate.’”

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Idiom of the Day 

a running start

Meaning: Literally, in sports, a start to a race in which one is already at full speed by the time one reaches the starting line.

Example: To make it fairer, give your little brother a running start.