In brief

May 2016   Comments

Sprinting toward potential problems at the gym

High-intensity sprint training may be gaining popularity at gyms, but for beginners, the workout could do more harm than good. In a study published in The FASEB Journal, researchers from Canada and Europe invited a dozen male volunteers in Sweden to participate in high-intensity training over the course of two weeks. It involved repeated 30-second all-out sprints, followed by rest periods. All the participants were in good health but self-identified as untrained or only moderately active. The investigators found signs of stress in the muscle tissues of their subjects after the ultra-intense exercises. Perhaps more concerning, the untrained subjects had a weakened ability to fight off free radicals, molecules that can alter DNA and harm healthy cells. Seasoned athletes and those who are well trained have built up antioxidant enzymes in their bodies to protect against free radicals.

The study raises questions about what the right dose and intensity of exercise for the average person really is. For people who are new to going to the gym, participating in high-intensity sprint classes may increase their performance but might not be healthy.

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