Marathon train­ing might boost heart health

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

Marathon train­ing may be a good way for mid­dle-aged men to re­duce their risk of heart prob­lems, a new study sug­gests.

Re­searchers found that pre­par­ing for a marathon -- a 26.2-mile run -- re­duced heart dis­ease risk fac­tors among 45 men, aged 35 to 65, who were recre­ational run­ners plan­ning to run the 2013 Bos­ton Marathon.

Just over half the men had at least one heart risk fac­tor such as high choles­terol, high blood pres­sure or a fam­ily his­tory of the dis­ease. They were eval­u­ated be­fore and af­ter their 18-week train­ing pro­gram, which in­cluded group runs, en­durance train­ing, ex­er­cise tips and reg­u­lar coach­ing. Over­all, the men ran 12 to 36 miles each week, depend­ing on the stage of train­ing.

Af­ter com­plet­ing train­ing, the men had a 5 per­cent drop in bad choles­terol, a 4 per­cent de­crease in to­tal choles­terol, a 15 per­cent de­cline in triglyc­erides and a 1 per­cent fall in body-mass in­dex (an es­ti­mate of body fat based on height and weight). Peak oxy­gen con­sump­tion, a mea­sure­ment of heart-lung fit­ness, also de­clined by 4 per­cent, the re­searchers said.

The study is sched­uled for pre­sen­ta­tion at this week’s an­nual meet­ing of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy, in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

“We chose char­ity run­ners be­cause we wanted to fo­cus on the non-elite type of run­ner, just the aver­age Joe who de­cides to get out there and train for a marathon,” lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Dr. Jodi Zilin­ski, of Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hospi­tal, said in a col­lege news re­lease.

“They turned out to be a health­ier pop­u­la­tion than we ex­pected with a lot of them al­ready ex­er­cis­ing on a pretty reg­u­lar ba­sis, but they were still nowhere near the lev­els of elite run­ners,” Zilinksi said.

Over­all, the men showed im­prove­ments in the size, shape, struc­ture and func­tion of the heart af­ter they com­pleted the marathon train­ing. The find­ings show the po­ten­tial for reg­u­lar ex­er­cise to im­prove heart health, but people should al­ways con­sult their doc­tor be­fore be­gin­ning an ex­er­cise pro­gram, Zilin­ski said.

Re­search pre­sented at meet­ings is typ­i­cally con­sid­ered pre­lim­i­nary un­til pub­lished in a peer-re­viewed med­i­cal jour­nal.

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