Going to the gym and staying healthy and fit is a good thing to do, but you might just need to step back on high-intensity sprint training. The training may instead do more harm than good if you are not an athlete, researchers say.

High-intensity sprint training is an exercise rave in gyms and commonly done by those who desperately need to lose weight and be physically fit; however, Canadian and European researchers say otherwise.

A study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal shows that high-intensity exercise, composed of repetitive bouts of maximum effort, which is immediately followed by short period of rest, can increase the amount and density of mitochondria, making cells more efficient. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells; through the increased number of mitochondria, it allows the cells to increase its oxidative capacity or the efficiency of the body to use oxygen, making one improve fitness.

However, questions remain as to why experts do not recommend this type of extreme exercise.

"Our study raises questions about what the right dose and intensity of exercise for the average person really is," said Dr. Robert Boushel, senior author of the study and director of School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia.

"We need to be cautious about supporting sprint training in the general population," he added.

The researchers worked on analyzing tissue samples of their untrained participants and went into high-intensity interval training (HIIT), other name for high-intensity sprint training, which includes arm and leg cycling. The participants' vastus lateralis and triceps brachii undergone biopsy and found that the mitochondria were firing at half-power post-training. Meaning, these untrained participants who underwent extreme exercise consume oxygen lesser than the athletes.

If the mitochondria work in less capacity, it will also have lesser ability to fight off free radicals allowing it to circulate in the body. High levels of free radicals inside the body are known to cause various medical illnesses such as cancer, organ damage and premature aging.

Athletes and seasoned high-intensity sprinters have already developed enzymes to protect them from free radicals.

Researchers are still on their study to know the potential long-term effects of high-intensity sprint training. Boushel suggests that people who intend to go to the gym should start slowly and gradually increase the exercise intensity.

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