This one lifestyle change lowers the risk of a stroke by 10 per cent, and it's every bit as powerful as a heart drug, researchers from University College London have discovered.
They monitored the impact of long-distance running on a group of 139 older people, the oldest were aged 69, who were training for their first marathon.
The health of their heart and blood vessels was assessed before they started training and two weeks after they completed the London Marathon. During the build-up, they were running an average of six to 13 miles a week for six months in preparation.
After they'd completed the marathon, the stiffness of their aorta—the body's largest artery—had reduced, and the aorta was "four years younger", the researchers said.
The good news is that you don't have to be an elite athlete to see these health benefits; in fact, the biggest improvements were in the slowest and oldest competitors. And benefits started to show within just a few weeks of starting training.