If you are conscious about sticking to an active and healthy lifestyle, that is excellent news! However, stay away from extreme forms of workout if you are not fit already. High-intensity sprint classes may increase your performance, but they might be unhealthy for you. You may also do your body more harm than good if you do not build up your fitness levels gradually.
High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) lures people into burning an extra 200 calories per day in just 2.5 minutes. While getting that ‘super lean body’ or burning calories quickly may sound attractive, exercising the right way is important to reap all its potential benefits without causing damage to the body.
Intense exercise training does have benefits. It increases the body’s capacity to use oxygen by stimulating the growth of mitochondria, the ‘powerhouse of cells.’ Besides enhancing cardiovascular fitness and strength, it also keeps cardiovascular disease and obesity at bay. However, both short-term (warming up) and long-term preparation (building up intensity over time) is extremely important.
In fact, intense workouts without the above not only reduce mitochondrial functionality, but also damage muscles in people who are healthy, but either untrained or only moderately active. Studies show that HIIT of repeated 30-second all-out sprints over a 2-week period involving ultra-intense leg and arm cycling exercises, followed by rest periods resulted in signs of stress in the muscle tissues.
The mitochondria of the participants were functioning at half their capacity after training, which reduced their ability to consume oxygen and defend the body against free radical induced damage. Free radicals harm healthy cells by modifying their DNA. High amounts of these molecules increase the risk of a number of medical conditions including, but not limited to premature aging, organ damage and cancer. Professional athletes accumulate antioxidant enzymes in their bodies that offer protection against free radicals.
The appropriate dosage and intensity of exercise for the average individual is a variable. Beginners must start slowly and build up intensity over time. If they are going to the gym, they should consult a trained professional. It is important that we exercise caution when it comes to high-intensity sprint training. Its potential long-term adverse effects are unknown. Evaluating the quantities and intensity of training and different levels of exercise against different biomarkers for health are yet to be explored.