Obesity is one of the most prominent and obvious concerns to public health around the world. Between 1995 to 2000, the number of overweight adults worldwide rose from 200 million to 300 million. Though this is in part due to increased production of processed foods and jobs which involve a sedentary lifestyle, the obesity epidemic affects countries around the world. Because of this, a great deal of research is being done on the most effective strategies for weight management at the lowest cost of time. Though prolonged endurance training is one of the best ways for maximal energy expenditure, many people do not adhere to this program on a daily basis due to time restrictions. Because of this, researchers have suggested a high-energy output, time-efficient alternative: sprint interval training.
Sprint interval training is an exercise technique which involves performing high-intensity spurts of activity followed by a brief period of rest. To do this properly, one should stretch thoroughly prior to the workout due to the high-intensity nature of the exercise. Dynamic stretches and some light warm-up routines are a good way to prepare your muscles and joints and thereby reduce the chance of injury. The exercise itself then consists of a series of 30-second sprints followed by recovery periods of about 60 seconds, or twice as long as the sprint. The key here is to work hard enough during the sprint that you are completely winded after the 30-second exercise. The short bursts of energy cause increased metabolism and help to quickly build muscle. There are some reports that sprint interval training can even increase one’s metabolism for up to 24 hours after exercise, thereby allowing for further calorie burn throughout the day.
It is good to begin with five or six sprint intervals per session when first starting with the program, however as your endurance improves this can be increased to 15 intervals per session. If even this becomes too easy, one can further adapt the program by increasing the duration of the sprint and decreasing the recovery period. Sprint interval training can be particularly beneficial for athletes looking to increase their overall strength and lung capacity.
Possibly the best quality of sprint interval training is the high expense of energy achieved during a relatively short time period. An exercise with 10 intervals of 30-second sprints followed by 60-second recovery periods would only take 15 minutes to complete. This short time commitment makes sprint interval training a very appealing exercise routine which can easily be incorporated into one’s daily schedule. People often report feeling that they do not have time in the day for exercise, but relatively short time commitments such as these might allow people to justify making the time to schedule physical activity and adhere to a daily program. It is important to put yourself first and consider the physical and mental benefits exercise can have on your daily life. Though you may not have time to go for an hour-long 10 km run, 15 minutes is certainly better than nothing.