Research suggests that preparing for the long-distance endurance race could see participants reduce their "vascular age" by four years. Runners in the findings saw improvements in blood pressure and eased age-related effects on the body's main artery.
"Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of ageing on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just six months," says senior author Dr. Charlotte Manisty, a senior lecturer at University College London and a consultant cardiologist at the Barts Heart Centre and University College Hospitals.
"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."
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Older, slower male runners saw the biggest improvements.
Recruiting 138 healthy first-time marathon runners aged between 21 and 29, researchers examined the volunteers six months before they began their preparation and three weeks after completing the London Marathon.
Instead of putting them on a workout plan, study authors left participants to work off the "Beginner's Training Plan" provided by the marathon - three runs per week, increasing difficulty over the six months in the lead up to the race.
Results showed that training decreased systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure while improving the aorta, the primary artery in the body.
Interestingly, how well they ran the race was irrelevant.
"We wanted to look at novice athletes. We didn't include people who said they ran for more than two hours a week," Manisty continues.