Losing weight is a numbers game. You need to burn more calories than you take in, regardless of your activity level. You can lose weight faster by performing some type of aerobic exercise for extended periods of time three or four times a week. The National Weight Control Registry touts running and sprinting as effective ways to lose weight, but the harder you work, the more weight you’ll lose.
Sprinting, or high-intensity running, will increase your heart rate higher, boost your metabolism, and help you burn more calories throughout the day, not just while you’re working out. Sprinting can also help you build back and leg muscle and tone different areas of your body, like your butt. Sprinting best practices include going all-out for one or two minutes, or as long as you can, then resting for the same amount of time. Repeat this cycle as many times as you can, giving your heart no chance to dip below its elevated rate. Once you have a few weeks or months of sprinting under your belt, you’ll notice that you eat more often than you used to, given how many calories you burn while sprinting, but that your body more effectively uses these calories to support your workout.
Slower and Steadier
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The difference between running and sprinting is you go at a steady pace for longer periods of time when running, which keeps your rate up but level. You may plateau, if all you do is run, and doing the same type of thing the same way may become boring. Studies find that you’ll burn around the same number of calories whether you run inside or out, so maybe run sometimes outside and sometimes inside on a treadmill. Go at your own pace, and stick to a schedule. As you lose weight, you may be able to run faster and for longer periods of time. The turtle beat the hare, and you can beat the bulge, if you work long enough.
You can also combine sprinting and running into one workout period. Called interval training, alternate between periods of running and periods of sprinting, resting when you need to. You’ll ask more from your body by frequently asking it to go faster and slower. Interval training can also help you run or sprint for longer periods of time during a workout when you do one type of activity. You might consider trying interval training after you’ve hit your weight-loss goal or when you feel ready to change your routine.
Keep in Mind
Safely losing weight, and keeping it off, takes more than running or sprinting three times every week. Make healthy food choices, stick to your routine and keep a schedule and continue to challenge yourself. Remember that you didn’t gain weight in a day, and you won’t lose it in a day. Motivate yourself with daily or weekly distance goals, ask a friend to run or sprint with you, and vary where and when you run.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.