The benefits of marathon running

July 2023

Training to run a marathon can offer a variety of health benefits for your body and mind.


Running a marathon is no small feat. That’s why it’s a popular bucket list item for many. Training to run a marathon may very well be the toughest physical challenge you will tackle in your lifetime – but given enough time to prepare, just about anyone can do it.

People run marathons for a number of different of reasons – a personal goal, to raise money for charity, lose weight, or get in shape. If you're thinking about running a marathon, here are ten great reasons for you to take the plunge.

Running is an excellent aerobic workout because it’s a weight-bearing, total-body activity. Studies show that running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Over time, running helps your heart pump more efficiently by keeping the arteries elastic. Cardiovascular exercise also lowers your blood pressure and bad cholesterol, but increases good cholesterol, thus reducing your risk of heart disease.
Running is a high-impact activity. Regular running, including marathon training, is one of the most effective forms of exercise for improving bone density, making your bones stronger and less prone to osteoporosis and fractures, particularly later in life. In addition to improving bone health, running can also improve the health of your joints and decrease the risk of arthritis.
Goal-setting is a great way to improve productivity in any facet of your life. Training for a marathon means setting targets and sticking to them. Research has shown that goal-setting is one of the easiest ways to increase motivation and productivity. With your goals in place, you can plan and prepare for how you’re going to achieve them. 
Engaging in regular exercise, such as marathon training, releases endorphins and boosts serotonin levels, leading to improved mood, reduced stress, and enhanced mental well-being. One of the main benefits to running is the feeling known as “runner’s high”. This happy feeling is the result of endorphins, the natural, feel-good hormones produced by the body. Even a 30-minute run can lift symptoms of depression and boost mood, according to scientists. 
Running can improve your mind at any age and fight age-related cognitive decline. Marathon runners tend to perform better on cognitive tests and have better brain function overall. The physiological effects running has on your brain can help you be more creative, resilient, and improve executive function. 
Hitting the pavement is one of the most effective ways to clear the mind. Studies have found that marathon training increases self-esteem and psychological coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety and depression.
Running burns more calories than most other activities. Running a marathon is a high-intensity, total-body workout, so it is one of the best ways to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. 
Research has found that running for 30 minutes in the morning can improve the quality of sleep at night. And the more you run, the greater the possibility of enjoying deeper, more restful sleep.  
Numerous studies have shown that running increases lifespan due to greater cardiovascular fitness, better body composition, lower cholesterol, stronger bones and positive neurological functioning.
Running a marathon is one of the most physical and rewarding challenges you can set for yourself. After you cross the finish line, you will feel like you can do anything if you put your mind to it. 

While training for a marathon can offer many health benefits, it's important to prepare properly, listen to your body, and consult with a healthcare professional or coach to ensure you're engaging in appropriate training for your fitness level and health. It is recommended that before anyone begins training for intensive physical activity they should speak with their GP and get the go ahead.

Experts recommend that you start marathon training 12 months before the big day and that you take your time to scale up your running, reducing the risk of injury - starting with 5 km and 10 km running, then a half marathon, and finally graduating to running that full marathon. 

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