Previous studies have demonstrated evidence of temporary heart injury in marathon runners. Fortunately, all of the cardiac abnormalities disappeared within a week after completing a race. Furthermore, these studies followed young marathon runners (between ages 18 and 40). Read on to find out if marathon running is safe for older adults.
Is marathon running safe for older adults?
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Manitoba used blood tests, echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart), CT, and MRI scans to test healthy runners over the age of 50 who participated in the 2010 and 2011 Manitoba Full Marathons.
This study, which was published in the Journal of Cardiovascular MRI, was the first study to use cardiac computed tomography (CT) in marathoners over the age of 50 to detect the presence of heart damage and blockage.
The researchers found similar temporary heart damage as those found in runners between 18 and 40 years of age: transient increase in blood markers and temporary swelling and weakness of the right side of the heart immediately following the 26.2 mile run. However, just like the studies on younger marathon runners, all of the changes in the heart returned to normal one week after the marathon.
The final conclusion? Marathon running is safe for older adults and the repeated stress on the heart from running 26.2 miles does not seem to result in any permanent injury to the heart in people over 50.
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