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Is it healthy to run a marathon?

A marathon is 26.219 miles — and it's a tough feat, both physically and mentally.
/ Source: TODAY

Running is a sport everyone can enjoy — it's free, there's no equipment required and you can do it anywhere! Once people start running, they might start taking part in races, and if they're ambitious, this healthy habit could lead to a marathon.

Last year, there were 1,100 marathons held in the U.S. with a total of 509,000 finishers. A marathon is 26.219 miles — and it is a tough feat, both physically and mentally.

Should you run a marathon? Any form of aerobic exercise has a host of health benefits like improved cardiovascular health, reduction in anxiety and stress and lower blood pressure, but there are negatives to extreme, long-distance running.

RELATED: How healthy is running for you?

Your lower back and leg muscles take on a significant amount of strain during marathon training and the race itself. Inexperienced runners are more prone to injuries, and the most common injury is related to the knee.

And finally, you might get a cold after the race: Your immune system is compromised for up to 72 hours, due to exercise-induced stress.

RELATED: 'Love yourself': Ida Keeling, 100, explains how she set a world running record

Before starting a training program, speak to a healthcare professional about whether a marathon race is right for you — and how to prepare your body accordingly.

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