First-time runners have the power to reverse four years of ageing – but they’ll need to finish a marathon to achieve it. Picture: Pexels

It will serve as much-needed motivation for anyone already struggling with their New Year’s gym regime.

First-time runners have the power to reverse four years of ageing – but they’ll need to finish a marathon to achieve it.

A study found the ‘heart age’ of novice marathon runners dropped by an average 3.9 years as their blood pressure also fell.

Researchers at University College London tracked 138 healthy, first-time runners who were training for the 2016 and 2017 London Marathons.

The participants, just under half of whom were men and who had an average age of 37, followed a beginner’s training plan by running three times a week. The researchers then compared their blood pressure and the stiffness of their arteries six months before and three weeks after the run.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, recorded ‘greater rejuvenation’ especially in older, slower, male runners.

Dr Charlotte Manisty, consultant cardiologist at Barts Heart Centre and University College Hospital, said: "Our study shows it is possible to reverse the consequences of ageing on our blood vessels with real-world exercise in just six months."

Other studies show that the benefits of running for just 5 to 10 minutes at a moderate pace each day may include: reduced risk of death from heart attack or stroke. reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Regular running or jogging offers many health benefits. Running can:

  • help to build strong bones, as it is a weight bearing exercise
  • strengthen muscles
  • improve cardiovascular fitness
  • burn plenty of kilojoules
  • help maintain a healthy weight.

Daily Mail