Ascending cliffs requires physical exercise, but it also has a significant positive impact on the climber’s mental health. This article explores rock climbing, the physical and psychological health benefits, and valuable skills that you gather from the experience.
In recent times, too many of us have been stuck indoors where common allergens and other health risks are lurking. If you are a novice or an experienced climber, we hope this article encourages you to get outside into the fresh air and make rock climbing a regular part of your life.
Helps develop muscle
Rock climbing requires great technique and also powerful upper-body strength. Researchers suggest that climbing for one hour can help you burn up to seven hundred calories. For most of us, rock climbing isn’t the most common form of exercise, but that’s the beauty of it. Rock climbing works muscles you may not often exercise which improves your physique.
Climbing also requires intricate skills to deal with complex manoeuvres. You’ll need a certain degree of flexibility before getting started. For this reason, many rock-climbing gyms are integrating yoga exercises in their space to help the climbers work on their flexibility.
Physical workouts and development have been proven to have a positive impact on our mental health. Rock climbing has the added benefit of acquiring a strong problem-solving acumen since you’ll be concentrating on the obstacles the rocks present, and looking for ways to overcome them. Focus and determination are vital to helping you navigate what should be your next step, quite literally.
Rock climbing also aids in minimising the symptoms of ADHD and can foster creative thinking. It can also have a similar effect on your brain as a cup of warm, delicious coffee.
Reduced Stress Levels
Physical activity, in general, is a brilliant stress buster as it helps your body secrete significant amounts of norepinephrine. This chemical essentially manages the stress levels in our brain. Climbers also enter the state of flow.
In positive psychology, a form of flow signifies immersion in energised focus and thorough enjoyment of the pursuit. Additionally, studies also show that the flow state can block pain. Stress contributes to an individual’s overall happiness, and rock climbing provides you with an experience to overcome your daily stressors.
Finding a sense of purpose
People suffering from depression often have trouble finding a sense of purpose. Many of us also feel that ambitious goals fuel our mental wellbeing. Taking up a challenging activity like rock climbing can give you a sense of purpose and meaning.
Additionally, outdoor climbing can help individuals connect with nature and induce a sense of tranquillity which lowers stress levels. It’s a transcendent way to unwind from a stressful week and connect with your inner-self, exploring your thoughts with deeper clarity.
Reduced symptoms of mental health disorders
From various reports across universities and research labs, the effect of rock climbing on mental health disorders shows the following results:
- Bouldering is an impeccable way to reduce symptoms of depression.
- Rock climbing lowers anxiety levels and develops self-confidence.
- Outdoor climbing helps regulate various emotional disorders.
Improves Life Skills
Some rock climbers look beyond the physical and mental benefits of climbing and into something more spiritual. For even the least spiritually interested of us, rock climbing teaches a host of valuable life skills. These skills can help enhance our performance in other spheres of life.
A finding in the journal, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, explored the advantages of rock climbing for children with special needs. After six weeks of climbing, the observers made notes on the improvement in self-efficacy. The increased confidence levels of these children were evident.
Challenges are part of life, and climbers embrace new obstacles on every expedition. The practice helps put different challenges that life has to offer in perspective. By overcoming these challenges, one learns to face their worst fears and improve their overall confidence.
In this day and age, we want immediate gratification. Technology is making us less human. To be human is to face adversity and to work on overcoming the challenges life presents. Some rocks are just too hard for us to overcome right now. Thus, rock climbing teaches us to accept failure gracefully and motivates us to give our best. It encourages us to work on ourselves and try and overcome the challenge again until we succeed.
Do you want to take the plunge and try rock climbing?
After reading the numerous benefits rock climbing has to offer, you may be wondering where to begin. It might seem a daunting task initially and it’s important to learn from experienced experts to ensure all the safety measures are in place.
Listed below are the important tips for beginners to kick start their journey as a rock climber:
- Initial Training: Just like learning to swim or riding a bike, you wouldn’t start out in the deep ocean or on a rough road. You should acquire a decent level of physical strength and focus by training at climbing gyms. It will also allow you to form social connections with members of a climbing community.
- Take a step outside: Climbing gyms are no substitute for ascending the cliffs out there in nature. You can train for physical strength and technique at the gym, but field experience on easier cliffs will better prepare you to face the difficult rock climbs.
- Pack your gear: Safety protocols are of utmost importance because rock climbing can be dangerous. Make sure you triple-check all the safety equipment and gear before you embark on your journey. Even experienced climbers are bound to make mistakes, and a little laziness can cost you your life.
- Use Chalk: Climbers use chalk to improve their grip and avoid slipping on the rocks. Various studies confirm that chalk improves friction on a wide range of rock surfaces, so make sure you’re all chalked up for rock climbing.
- Enjoy: Rock climbing should be fun and it’s something you should do with others due to safety protocols. Choose climbs that challenge you yet are achievable. As you conquer a challenge, you’ll enjoy a sense of accomplishment and be ready to move on to bigger challenges.