When you run at a faster pace, your feet spend less time touching the ground as you move forward. This slight difference means that your muscles are activated differently. According to a study published in the October 2005 issue of the “Journal of Sports Sciences,” your pace affects the activation of the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, shins and calves. The study notes that the faster you move, the more your muscles are activated. The difference in muscle activation is obvious when you compare the physiques of long-distance runners with that of sprinters. Long-distance runners tend to look thin and underdeveloped, whereas sprinters have more muscular physiques.
Sprinting will also give you a better calorie burn. According to the American Council on Exercise calorie counter, a 150-pound person will burn 91 calories jogging at a pace of 5 mph for 10 minutes. That same person burns 113 calories running at a 6-mph pace and 130 calories at a pace of 7 mph. Sprinting has also proven to be a better fat burner. Another study published in the April 2008 issue of the “International Journal of Obesity” concluded that high-intensity exercises such as sprinting burn a much more significant amount of total body mass and fat mass than slower, steady-state exercise such as jogging.
Another benefit to more intensive exercise is that it produces an exercise after-burn or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. The more your body works beyond its comfort zone, as it does during intense exercise such as fast running, the more it depletes its oxygen reserves. Your body then has to work hard, even after you stop exercising, to restore your oxygen levels. This effort requires energy and leads to continued calorie burn up to 48-hours after you’ve stopped exercising.