Sprint running is one of the most challenging exercise routines available. It requires running as hard as you can for short periods of time, utilizing all your energy and muscle power for short intense bursts. Fortunately, the benefits are worth the effort. Sprinting is excellent cardiovascular exercise, it increases your anaerobic threshold and it burns a great deal of calories in a short time.
As you sprint, your heart rate increases to compensate for the increased need for blood flow to your sprinting muscles. Sprinting brings your heart rate to near its maximum speed. Over time, sprint training can increase your maximum heart rate, allowing you to work out more efficiently. Sprinting also increases your cardiovascular fitness, which helps you take in more oxygen while exercising and increasing fitness.
The two basic types of exercise are anaerobic and aerobic. Aerobic exericise requires large amounts of oxygen for energy. Unlike sprinting and anaerobic exercise, aerobic exercise does not fatigue muscles. Aerobic exercise is capable of being maintained. Sprinting is an anaerobic exercise, meaning that it requires short bursts of energy that produce lactic acid. The buildup of lactic acid leads to pain and soreness while exercising, sometimes cramping. In normal exercise your body removes lactic acid as it is created, keeping lactic acid at a manageable level. Sprint training increases your anaerobic threshold and the rate at which your body can process lactic acid, allowing you to work harder, longer.
Sprinting burns a great deal of calories in a short time. Professor James Timmons from the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh reports that sprinting "can boost the body's metabolism sharply, helping to prevent weight gain and diabetes." Sprinting not only burns calories during its duration, but greatly improves overall metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories even when not sprinting.
Because sprinting is an anaerobic exercise, it works to build muscle in the same way that weight training does. When weight training, your body is required to produce short bursts of energy that increase muscle strength. Sprinting works in the same way. However, unlike most weightlifting exercises, sprinting uses dozens of muscles at the same time, making it one of the most complete muscle training exercises available.