An overview of the physical and non-physical health effects of marathon running

Joshua Beck, Purdue University


The purpose of this study is to summarize the current scientific literature and knowledge on the physical and non-physical health effects of marathon running. Five databases were queried, using the keywords marathon, endurance, training, wellness, injury, distance, runner, running, health, benefit, respiratory, infection, immunity, and/or risk in various combinations. Articles eligible for inclusion analyzed the effects of long-distance running (13.1 miles or greater), and were published in peer-reviewed English language journals after 1976. Of the 71 articles which meet the inclusion criteria, several discussed more than one aspect of marathon running; 26 discussed physical benefits, 11 discussed non-physical benefits, 40 discussed physical risks, and 4 discussed non-physical risks. The physical health benefits of exercise are well known, however, many questions remain about the health risks and implications across the spectrum of wellness. These questions must be answered before the effects, benefits, and risks of long-distance running can be understood, and scientifically validated recommendations published.




Black, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Public health|Health education

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