Sprinting is an activity that comes with a lot of benefits. It goes without saying that to avail of those benefits, you must start right—that includes adopting the right running technique, choosing the right terrain, and warming up properly to avoid injury. Many studies have been performed on sprinting and the benefits are proven. Here are some of the benefits of sprinting.
Sprint interval training (SIT), being a high-intensity workout, reduces the subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin), especially around the abdominal areas. This facilitates overall weight loss of the body.1
A study even calls it a “time-efficient strategy for decreasing body fat while increasing aerobic capacity, peak running speed, and fat-free mass in healthy young women.”2
SIT brings down the metabolic and vascular risk factors that make you vulnerable to conditions such as diabetes and stroke. A study performed on overweight sedentary men who had to complete two weeks of SIT showed an increase in insulin sensitivity and resting fat oxidation and a decrease in systolic blood pressure and carbohydrate oxidation in a fasting state. Simply put, SIT is found to reduce the risk for diabetes and hypertension and increase the rate of weight loss. In fact, the test subjects displayed a significant reduction in their waist circumference at the end of the two-week study.3
Increased Muscle Strength
A 2012 study found that 30-second sprints spread out across a time period of 20 minutes enhanced the protein synthesis pathways in the body. This paves the way to muscle building, which can make the body leaner. A leaner body can sprint longer and faster.4
Better Glucose/Insulin Control
A study on sedentary young men showed that SIT substantially improves the effectiveness of insulin even when the work done via sprinting is as low as 250 kcal/week.5 This is indeed good news for those who cannot exercise because of a time crunch and are suffering from high blood glucose–related disorders.
An Alternative to Endurance Training
SIT is a time-efficient alternative to endurance training, and research has shown that it is just as effective. SIT increases the oxidative capacity of the muscles and improves more than one cardiac function. The increase in the oxidative capacity means that the muscle tissues have a higher rate of oxygen exchange. This makes the muscles more efficient and increases their stamina. As opposed to long-endurance runs, SIT takes less time for the muscles to develop.6
Besides these advantages, sprinting is an activity that releases endorphins or the “feel-good hormones” into the blood stream. It benefits patients of depression and anxiety. Since it can be done anywhere, anytime and needs minimal gear, sprinting will not burn a hole in your pocket as most other exercises do. Besides that, sprinting is a natural movement for humans.
Should You Sprint?
Though it’s a healthy option, sprinting is not for everyone. Those with week knees, arthritis, excessive body weight, and pre-existing cardiac issues may need to refrain from it. Based on the state of health, everyone should make an informed decision about it based on their personal medical history and the current state of health. It would also be a good idea to consult one’s doctor before taking it up.
As an aside: Good sprinting technique plays an important part in achieving the desired result.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Nalcakan, Gulbin Rudarli.”The effects of sprint interval vs.continuous endurance training on physiological and metabolic adaptations in young healthy adults.” Journal of human kinetics 44, no.1 (2014):97-109.|
|2.||↑||Hazell, Tom J., Craig D. Hamilton, T. Dylan Olver, and Peter WR Lemon. “Running sprint interval training induces fat loss in women.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 39, no. 8 (2014): 944-950.|
|3.||↑||Whyte, Laura J., Jason MR Gill, and Andrew J. Cathcart. “Effect of 2 weeks of sprint interval training on health-related outcomes in sedentary overweight/obese men.” Metabolism 59, no. 10 (2010): 1421-1428.|
|4.||↑||Esbjörnsson, Mona, Håkan C. Rundqvist, Henrik Mascher, Ted Österlund, O. Rooyackers, Eva Blomstrand, and Eva Jansson. “Sprint exercise enhances skeletal muscle p70S6k phosphorylation and more so in women than in men.” Acta Physiologica 205, no. 3 (2012): 411-422.|
|5.||↑||Babraj, John A., Niels BJ Vollaard, Cameron Keast, Fergus M. Guppy, Greg Cottrell, and James A. Timmons. “Extremely short duration high-intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.” BMC endocrine disorders 9, no. 1 (2009):3.|
|6.||↑||Cocks, Matthew, Christopher S. Shaw, Sam O. Shepherd, James P. Fisher, Aaron M. Ranasinghe, Thomas A. Barker, Kevin D. Tipton, and Anton JM Wagenmakers. “Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males.” The Journal of physiology 591, no. 3 (2013):641-656.|