Run a marathon over a month to boost your heart health

Worldwide, physical inactivity is thought to cause more than five million deaths each year, says the health charity British Heart Foundation (BHF).

And according to a new report published by the charity, more than 20 million UK adults are classed as physically inactive, which not only increases their risk of heart disease but also costs the NHS as much as £1.2 billion a year.

That’s why the charity launched its MyMarathon challenge, to get people moving and boost the nation’s heart health. The challenge encourages people of all fitness levels to run the 26.2 miles of a marathon in their own time over the course of a month – which means you could complete an entire marathon in a little under a mile a day.

“Physical inactivity is one of the most significant global health crises of the moment,” says Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF. “Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in the UK remain stubbornly high, and combined these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our cardiovascular health and risk of early death.

“Making physical activity easier and more accessible for all is of paramount importance if we are to reduce the burden of inactivity-related ill health. Our MyMarathon challenge is an ideal way for people of all fitness levels to increase their physical activity and improve their heart health.”

Fitness findings

The BHF’s report, entitled Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour Report, reveals more than 20 million adults in the UK do not meet official government guidelines for physical activity (150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week). It also reveals that women are 36 percent more likely to be considered physically inactive than men, and that the North West is the area in the UK where the most people are inactive.

Indeed, Scotland has the lowest percentage of adults who are physically inactive with 37 percent, followed by England (39 percent), Wales (42 percent) and Northern Ireland (46 percent).

Another finding from the report is that physical inactivity is high among people who go on to suffer a cardiac event, with 76 percent of people in England who had a heart attack or had heart surgery having been considered physically inactive.

However, according to the BHF, evidence suggests keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35 percent and the risk of early death by as much as 30 percent.

How to sign up

Last year, more than 30,000 people took part in the MyMarathon challenge. If you’d like to join them to boost your own fitness as well as raise funds for the BHF’s heart research, you can sign up for free at www.bhf.org.uk/mymarathon.

Always speak to your GP before starting a new exercise programme if you have a medical condition or you haven’t been very active lately. In the meantime, your local Careway pharmacist can provide you with runners’ products to help ease blisters and sore muscles.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.