17/06/2011 11:08 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Get Set To Sprint

Do you dread your time on the treadmill at the gym? In need of a quick and easy exercise fix? Get bored plodding around the park for as long as you can before you're too exhausted to continue? You don't need to spend endless hours jogging around to get fit - in fact research shows sprinting will help you get healthier, faster.

Run faster for less time. Photo: Rex Features

British researchers found that bursts of intense exercise lowered blood pressure far more effectively than longer, slow-paced workouts.

If the idea of running faster than you usually do terrifies you, be comforted by the fact that you'll actually shorten your usual workout time. The benefits of sprinting mean you work your body harder in short bursts, challenging your muscles and raising your heart rate in a different way to the more steady pace of jogging.

Unless you're out there jogging for upwards of an hour a day, you won't be working your muscles hard enough to dramatically change your shape. Many people find that they reach a fitness plateau if they jog for half an hour three times a week.

By contrast, mixing in sprints with your usual workout reduces body fat and activates what are known as the fast twitch muscle fibres. It also has more impact on your heart and lungs, helping to increase your cardiovascular fitness.

If you're already reasonably fit, warm up with a slow jog for 10 minutes and then sprint for 75-100 metres as fast as you can. Recover by walking or jogging until you feel you can run again, and repeat 5-10 times.

If you're new to running, check the state of your health with your GP first and then look at our guide to running for beginners.

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