If your goal is to lose weight, you have to get moving, and running is a great place to start! But when it comes to sprints vs. long distance running, what's the better option for shedding pounds fast?
Read More: Proper Training for Long-Distance Running
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Sprints Vs. Long Distance Running
Trainers agree that cardiovascular exercise is a necessary and unavoidable ingredient for weight loss, and running is a great cardio option. Not only has it generated many weight loss success stories, but it's also free. Unless you prefer a treadmill indoors, running requires no additional equipment or gym membership. All you need is determination and the great outdoors!
Generally speaking, there are two ways to go about your running regimen. You can partake in steady state — long distance jogging — or opt for shorter, high intensity sprints with walking rest in between. Both are effective forms of exercise, but they each have their pros and cons.
Steady State Exercise
According to the American Council on Exercise, there are many benefits of steady state exercise and long distance jogging. These include everything from reducing the risk that's sometimes associated with more intense sprinting, helping your body become more efficient at burning fat and strengthening your heart muscle. Long distance running can also build your cardiovascular endurance.
The downside to steady state exercise is that it doesn't burn calories as efficiently as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) like sprinting. What this means is that you will need to exercise for longer periods of time in order to lose weight, which is not always ideal for someone who keeps a busy schedule. Plus, the repetition and longer duration of long distance running can sometimes lead to injury.
Interval Training Comparison
If you want better exercise in less time, Harvard Health Publishing recommends you try interval training, like sprinting, to boost your workout. Why? Because the act of alternating between high intensity (sprinting) and low intensity (walking) taps into excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which allows your body to burn calories more efficiently both during you workout and after it concludes.
In addition to burning more calories, the American College of Sports Medicine claims additional benefits of HIIT workouts include improved blood pressure levels and cardiovascular health, better cholesterol profiles and improved insulin sensitivity, which helps the exercising muscles more readily use glucose for fuel to make energy. Some disadvantages of HIIT are that the intensity of interval training can cause injury and discomfort in some people.
Read More: How to Run Sprint Intervals
Mix It Up
The bottom line is that when it comes to sprinting vs. long distance running, sprinting in intervals has the greater potential for faster weight loss.
However, trainers agree that it's important to vary your workout routine for long-term results. Mixing up your workout routine between steady state and HIIT will help you avoid plateaus and reduce your risk of injury. And when it's all said and done, the best method for maintaining a healthy weight is to exercise regularly and consistently.
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- American Council on Exercise: “Steady State Vs. Interval Training: Which One is Best for Your Clients?”
- American Council on Exercise: “6 Benefits of Sub-Max Steady-State Exercise”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Want Better Exercise Results in Less Time? Try Interval Training to Boost Your Workout”
- American Council on Exercise: “7 Things to Know About Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC)"
- American College of Sports Medicine: “High Intensity Interval Training”