Running is a good form of cardiovascular exercise, but can get monotonous with time. To shake things up during your workout, consider running up and down bleachers. This increases the benefits of simply running on a flat track or path and adds a new workout option to your arsenal. Most high school tracks have a set of outdoor bleachers, making this type of exercise ideal for most people. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Running burns plenty of calories, but doing so on a set of bleachers greatly increases this number. A 140-pound person running bleachers can burn nearly 1,000 calories in an hour versus just under 700 for a traditional one-hour run. Your speed plays a role in overall calorie burn as well. If you run fast, you'll burn more calories than you would running at a slow pace up and down the bleachers. If you can't keep up bleacher running for an entire workout, you can still increase your calorie burn by mixing in some stair runs with your regular running routine. Burning more calories than you consume each day can help you lose excess weight.
Builds Lower Body Strength
Stepping activates many of the muscles in your lower body, including your legs, hips and buttocks. Running bleachers helps build these muscles because of the repeated stepping motion involved with the workout. This helps increase muscle mass and strength in your glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps and calves. A strong lower body makes many day-to-day activities easier and improves performance during organized sports and other types of exercise. In addition, lean muscle mass boosts your metabolism, which aids in effective calorie burn.
Improves Fitness Levels
Even short bleacher running sessions can help improve your overall fitness levels, particularly if you are currently sedentary. In a 2000 study published in "Preventive Medicine," researchers found that formerly sedentary people who climbed six flights of stairs per day improved oxygen uptake, heart rate and HDL cholesterol levels after about seven weeks. While the study was confined to inactive women, the effects are likely to benefit anyone who increases their exercise time and adds running bleachers as a variation to their usual workout.
Protects Against Diseases
When you engage in cardiovascular exercise, such as running bleachers, your immune system kicks into gear, notes MayoClinic.com. Not only does this protect you from a bout of the flu or the common cold, but it also helps ward off more serious health conditions. Running bleachers may play a role in a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and obesity, when used as part of a healthy overall workout routine. MayoClinic.com suggests at least 30 minutes of exercise per day for the most benefit.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.