What’s most important is to get moving. But you might as well do it fast, at least once in a while.
Physical activity of any intensity is linked to reduced blood pressure and lowered risk of death from cardiovascular disease or any other cause.
More, though, is almost always better, and if you’re running at all then sprinting, or running at or near your maximum speed, will expand your muscles, endurance and athleticism quickly and efficiently. Beginners, consider 30-second sprints with one to two minutes of resting or slower walking/running in between.
To be more specific:
- It boosts your heart health — Sprinting pushes your heart rate higher than jogging or more moderate running and conditions your circulation system to move blood and oxygen around your body more efficiently, reducing your resting heart rate for better overall health.
- It burns more fat — Sprinting spikes your metabolism and keeps it humming for up to 90 minutes afterward as your body continues to recover by seeking more oxygen and returning to its resting state. To do this, it turns to fat to provide energy, and so the amount you have shrinks.
- It builds muscle mass throughout your body — This is especially true in your legs and core, but this activity fires up every part of your body by building lean muscle mass, which takes place when your body synthesizes protein. Studies have shown that sprinting can speed up this process by 230%.
- It strengthens your bones — Sprinting is about as high-impact a workout as you can get as you pound your feet onto the surface and the shock waves travel through your body. Taxing your bones this way, provided you don’t have any pre-existing conditions that weaken them, forces them to reconstruct themselves better than ever.
- It flexes your brain power — Bouts of running as fast as you can helps train your nerve signals to fire as quickly as possible in the correct sequence to keep up with your pace, a skill that transfers to other sports and daily activities.
It also pumps out endorphins, which improve your mood and raises brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that boosts brain connections and repairs damaged brain cells while protecting healthy cells.
Form is critical for any type of running, and to get the most out of sprinting you should adopt the classic gait — running on the balls of your feet while keeping your elbows at 90-degree angles while pumping your arms as close to your body as possible.
You should pull your knees straight up and make sure your feet land right under your hips.
Sprinting on a flat surface or a treadmill will produce the same fabulous results, but most coaches advise you not to do it more than two or three times a week so you can recover from the stress it can put on your body.