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The Effects of Running a Marathon on Memory

April 29th, 2013 5 comments

nyc-marathonRegular exercise is known to have many advantages.  In addition to the obvious physical benefits such as reducing the risks of heart disease and obesity, it can also benefit the brain.  Regular aerobic exercise releases endorphins, a naturally occurring opiate, to improve an athlete’s mood.  It also increases cognitive function in healthy adults, including improved working memory and executive functioning (Guiney & Machado, 2013).   Marathon running, however, is above and beyond typical regular aerobic exercise; it is considered the ultimate test of fitness.   The marathon always concludes the Olympic games, seeming to symbolize the pinnacle of athleticism. But to complete a marathon, runners put their bodies through the ringer.  They run more mileage than the human body was probably ever designed to run, all in preparation for the 26.2-mile race.  Though regular exercise has positive effects on both the body and the mind, could running a marathon actually be too much exercise?  Beyond sore muscles, marathon runners often experience tendonitis, torn muscles and ligaments, sprains, stress fractures, shin splints, and other injuries.  But might there also be negative cognitive effects of running a marathon?

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