Rock climbing rocks, literally and figuratively. It is an amazing sport that is great for all ages and genders. More and more people are discovering the amazing benefits along with being so much fun. No wonder it is getting so popular among the younger generation.
For me, it is an addictive sport. The more I climb the stronger I become and the more fun I have. It feeds my obsessive personality. In this article, I shall list five top rock climbing benefits of why I like climbing so much. I hope those benefits will also inspire you to give it a try.
Strengthen and Tone Muscles
I started climbing because it was fun. That was my number one reason why climbing lured me in. Gaining strength and toning my muscles were secondary. My body was totally tired during my first few months of rock climbing. I used muscles that I didn’t even know existed. It was a good kind of fatigue and muscle sore. I know that rock climbing is a good exercise but I didn’t realize how much.
As the years progressed, I noticed subtle increases in strength. My muscle tone started to become more obvious. Rock climbing activates muscles that I do not use on a normal basis. It stimulates my core from all the dynamic and body momentum moves. It arouses my biceps, triceps, back, and shoulders to pull me up to the next hold. It triggers my stabilizer muscles in supporting the large muscles into action.
Rock climbing engages all the major muscle groups such as the abs, obliques, delts, traps, biceps, lats, quads, calves, and even the forearm muscles with a strong grip. I notice that most strong climbers have unusually huge forearms. It reminds me of Popeye.
Furthermore, to prove my point on the physical benefit, I found an article review written in 2015 by Shannon R. Siegel, Ph.D., and Simon M. Fryer, Ph.D. The article was called Rock Climbing for Promoting Physical Activity in Youth. It was a case study of rock climbing for youths. As a conclusion, they found improvement in muscular strength and endurance, progression in flexibility, engagement in cardiorespiratory fitness, and increasing overall activity levels and fitness.
In most sports, there are physical and mental aspects. Rock climbing is not any different. Building physical strength is sometimes easier than building mental strength. For most adults, the biggest factor of climbing is overcoming the fear of height or the fear of falling.
It is easy to psych yourself when you are up high. I know because I was there. The more I thought about falling the scarier it became. The mind was there to protect me from doing something stupid like jumping off a building without support. However, this time I was tied to a rope with a belayer catching my fall but somehow it was still hard to let go and fall.
The key is not to think or not allow the mind to have a chance to think. After many practices and hours, I finally let go. The mind is an amazing thing. If my mind thinks the route is too hard, then I will of course keep on falling. If my mind thinks that it is easy, then I would have no problem.
Falling is still a scary thing for me but I get better at it over time. I am slowly building the mental muscles to overcome my fear. Every time I accomplish a challenging climb, I conquer my fear. I feel empowered and alive. It builds confidence and self-esteem.
The interesting part of rock climbing is FUN. It didn’t occur to me that it was hard work. I know it is a workout but it is also a challenge. To me, climbing is like solving a puzzle. I enjoy problem-solving. Where should I place my hands, my body, or my feet? How can I climb up to the next move without falling off?
As the route grade level increases, the climbing demands increase. The ability to maneuver and balance with grip strength require focus and energy. It requires hand-eye coordination for the climber to assess the best way to flow through a challenging route for the first time without falling or also known as “flashing a route“. Most of the time it would take several tries to figure the right positioning and the correct movements to complete a route without falling. A fun challenge for me is “how can I complete climbing a route without falling?”
When climbing, my outside world seemed to disappear. My focus was only here, now, and how can I reach over to my next move. It is a euphoric feeling when I climb to the top of a challenging route.
Climbing increases the levels of norepinephrine which is an organic chemical in the brain that functions as a hormone and neurotransmitter. This increases alertness and focuses attention on the current situation at hand. In turn, your body has to release the tension or stress of your everyday life drama to stay focus on the new task.
Climbing outside also helps release stress. The body absorbs more vitamin D from the sunshine and fresh air.
According to healtfitnessrevolution.com, “Harvard Health Publications reported that a 155-pound person burns about 818 calories hourly during a rock climbing ascent and 596 calories per hour while rappelling.” Also, according to WebMD, if we burn 3500 calories more than we take in then we can shed 1 pound.
I found that there are many more benefits to rock climbing than there are negatives. Although it is a dangerous sport, you can take it to the level of comfort that works for you.
If you think about it, football, soccer, gymnastics, and many other outdoor sports are also dangerous. Do we stop playing them because we can get hurt? Like many sports, you can get hurt when you are careless. Rock climbing requires safe practice and good routine habits. It is maybe considered to be safer than some because of the rigorous gear check and many backup systems.
Overall, I enjoy rock climbing indoor and outdoor, tremendously. It is something I know I can still do at an older age and the limit is only me. When climbing outdoor, I am exposed to the beauty of nature all over the world. When I climb indoors, I can explore the different gyms across the states and the world all year round if I want. It is limitless and exciting!
Join me in exploring the climbing world. The world waits for you patiently. I love to hear your thoughts or experiences with rock climbing. Please leave your comments below.