Ladies: Lace up those tennies. According to new research, women who regularly complete marathons have less coronary-plaque buildup—and therefore a lower risk of stroke or heart attack—than sedentary women.
In this study, the sample included 26 women marathon runners aged 42–82 and 28 sedentary women of similar age. Researchers gathered information on them from a clinical study database. To qualify for this study, the runners must have completed at least one marathon per year for 10 or more years. Each runner underwent coronary computed tomography angiography, 12-lead electrocardiography, blood pressure and heart rate measurement, and lipid panel testing; they also responded to a demographic/health risk factor survey.
Marathon runners had significantly less plaque buildup than their sedentary counterparts. The five runners who did have some buildup had run marathons for more years and were on average 12 years older than the other runners.
The researchers found other favorable marathon-related health outcomes: Runners were less likely to smoke and had lower hypertension and hyperlipidemia levels than inactive women. Marathoners also had lower heart rates, body weight, BMIs and triglyceride levels and higher high-density lipoprotein levels.
This study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2017; 49 , 641–45).