There are almost as many ways to exercise and get fit as there are people wanting to shape up for summer. Ideas about the best exercise regime come and go, with sports scientists fine-tuning their understanding of human physiology and fitness. Science aside, the best exercise is the kind you enjoy doing, because if you don’t it will soon become a choreand you won’t be able to keep it up. But if you’re motivated and raring to go, then sprinting is a great way to get started.

In the world of competitive athletics, the sprint is a race of 400 meters or less. It’s all about speed, rather than distance. Sprinting has recently gained popularity as an exercise and fitness strategy for non-athletes, thanks to the latest sports science research. In brief, this has shown that short bursts of high intensity exercise are more effective than longer episodes of slower activity.

For people who don’t have the time for long, slow endurance exercises, consider sprinting. Studies suggest that a few short sessions of sprints provide the cardiovascular fitness results and boost in endurance that you’d only get from hours of medium intensity aerobic exercise. Around six sprint sessions achieved the same results as doing an hour a day of aerobic exercise. That’s a big difference, time wise.

Those sprint sessions aren’t easy though. A session should consist of about four to six thirty second sprints. We’re not talking about fast jogging though. Sprinting means giving it absolutely everything you’ve got – the absolute fastest you can manage. You do get to take a four minute break in between each sprint though.

High intensity training has been making headlines, suggesting you can get fit with only three minutes exercise a week. It’s not quite that simple.  The time required for a sprint session works out at around twenty minutes. You’ll have to add on time spent warming up if you don’t want to injure yourself, but it still amounts to half the time of standard exercise routines and substantially enhanced results all round.

The effectiveness of high intensity training, whether it’s sprinting or on an exercise bike, seems to be that it’s more effective at breaking down glycogen. Among the benefits are an increase in insulin sensitivity, so it’s good for people with blood sugar problems, and more efficient burning of calories.

The only bad news is that it doesn’t work for everyone and isn’t suitable for people with certain pre-existing medical conditions. There seems to be a genetic component to getting fit, and some people don’t see the expected great gains in aerobic fitness. They are known as ‘non-responders’.  But even if you’re one of them, it doesn’t mean sprinting won’t boost your general health. Sprinting could be your perfect summer exercise regimen, achieving great fitness fast, with the added bonus of taking you out into the fresh air and sunshine.

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