Benefits of Rock Climbing

Kaye Kennedy
Rock Climbing

Rock climbing has become quite popular, with many gyms and even tourists destinations offering rock climbing walls these days. Whether you are climbing for sport, exercise or just for fun there are both physical and mental benefits that can be derived from working your way up the wall.

Physical Benefits

  • Improving cardiovascular fitness: Climbing is good cardiovascular training. According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research from the University of Wisconsin, rock climbing reaches the standards established by the American College of Sports Medicine for heart rate and energy output.
  • Boosting activity level: A study done by Purdue University estimates that rock climbing equates to 244 steps per minute, which is comparable to running a 10 minute mile. Whether climbing indoors or outdoors, you can crank up the intensity level by how quickly you climb, the kind of surface you climb or the length of time spent climbing.
  • Calorie burning: Depending on the effort you put into your climb and how many breaks you take, you can burn anywhere from 500 to 900 calories per hour while rock climbing.
  • Muscle building: Climbing engages nearly all of the major muscle groups, strengthening the core, legs, arms, chest and back muscles. The often-forgotten muscles of the hand and forearm will strengthen as a result of climbing, as well.
  • Added benefits: Your balance and coordination will also improve with regular climbs. As you navigate a climb, finding hand and footholds, pulling and propelling yourself, the body responds to the demands resulting in an overall enhancement in balance and coordination.

Mental Benefits

  • Mental Focus: Throughout a typical day, human beings experience a plethora of mental stimuli. Climbing teaches you to reign in your thoughts and eliminate distractions, thereby, sharpening your mental focus.
  • Concentration: Successful climbing requires the ability to narrow your concentration and fixate only on the hand and footholds. Planning and strategizing to determine the necessary route are the keys to making it to the finish.
  • Awareness: Whether you do it indoors or outdoors, there is always the potential of slipping or falling. This leads to a heightened sense of awareness, something climbers can master through visualization.
  • Mental toughness: No doubt you will experience numerous external and internal distractions during a climb, and dealing with these can lead to mental toughness. The act of climbing necessitates a steady mind that is willing to do whatever it takes to meet the challenge of the task.
  • Stress reduction: Like other forms of physical exertion, you will experience the release of endorphins causing you to feel good. It will elevate your mood and thereby reduce harmful stress. If you are climbing in an outdoor setting, being in nature will increase your peace of mind and if nothing else, will take your mind of the day's worries.
  • Confidence: Successfully scaling a mountain is no small feat. How many people do you know that can say they have ever done it? Whether you're climbing a wall or boulder, the sense of accomplishment associated with climbing can amplify one's self confidence and self-reliance.
  • Problem solving: No doubt when you are standing at the bottom of a massive rock, you are awestruck. As a climber you have to figure out how to make it to the top, which involves a significant amount of problem solving. You face a constant mental challenge while exerting yourself physically.

Social Benefits

  • Team building: Rock climbing in small groups forces those in the group to strategize a course of action and to execute. Each is responsible for the others' safety and without everyone's cooperation they will fail. This type of teamwork builds confidence and trust. In fact, many climbing organizations offer corporate seminars that use the climbing experience to help workers learn to work together more effectively. This activity can have the same positive results for families too.
  • Connect with others: Rock climbing is a great way to meet and get to know other people. There are many online networks that help bring climbers together. By using these sites you can find partners and keep up with fellow climbers. You might even join a climbing team and climb competitively. Amongst other climbers you will find a great deal of encouragement.

Getting Started

The best way to begin your ascension into the sport of rock climbing is to just start climbing. A safe bet is to start at an indoor climbing facility. While indoor climbing may not seem as legitimate as outdoor climbing to some, it represents a safe segue into the sport.

Here you can learn the basics and get safety tips and pointers from a trained professional. Indoor climbing is challenging and can serve as a good training ground for those wanting to graduate to outdoor climbs. Regular climbs will bring about improved flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, as well as mental focus. Another perk is that indoor climbing is not limited by inclement weather.

What to Expect

Rocking climbing, like any vigorous physical activity, will leave you sore. It's a total body workout, so expect to feel it from your fingers all the way down to your toes.

Count on slipping a few times, getting stuck trying to find the right foothold and maybe even finding yourself back at the start pointing after only a few steps. Consider it all par for the course. You will improve you overall fitness, turbo boost your brain power and break out of your training rut. Rock climbing is a great way to train yourself to push through mental and physical challenges not only on a rock but also in life.

Benefits of Rock Climbing