Rock Climbing and Health

rock climber on wall

Rock Climbing and Health

    The average person in the Western world lives a fairly sedentary lifestyle. Rock climbing offers a fun and exciting way to get your daily exercise. It provides a multitude of physical and mental benefits in a unique and exhilarating way. It can be as strenuous or casual as you like. You can push yourself to the brink or climb easy routes well below your level. You can get anaerobic exercise by pushing yourself on short boulder problems or you can get your aerobic exercise by climbing long, easy routes.

Physical Benefits

    The physical benefits of rock climbing begin with flexibility. Rock climbing will help you learn to move your body in unique ways. The combination of dynamic and static movements will help you to increase your range of movement and decrease pain caused by tight muscles. Tight glutes, hip flexors, and hamstrings are among the major causes of lower back pain; the movements used by rock climbers loosen those muscles and decrease the risk of back pain. It also helps with shoulder flexibility, which will lower the chance of neck and shoulder pain.

girl indoor climbing gym

Building Strength

    Another massive physical benefit of rock climbing is strength. As you move up the wall, your legs are pushing you up every step of the way. This repetitive movement increases muscular strength in much the same way body-weight squats and lunges do. The more dynamic movements of bouldering lend themselves to an increase in upper body strength. These actions help strengthen your upper back and shoulders. This increase in strength will allow you to safely lift heavier items and decrease the risk of injury in your daily life.

    Rock climbing also requires a lot of core stabilization, this engagement of the core muscles will lead to a rapid increase in core strength. A stronger core will help improve your posture, alleviate back pain, and increase your balance. A lack of core strength is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of a sedentary lifestyle. If you spend your day sitting in a chair in front of a computer, it is likely your core muscles are underdeveloped.  A strong core helps support the rest of the body, making it easier to do various physical activities.

    In addition to these benefits, rock climbing is an excellent way to burn calories. It is estimated that you burn between 500-900 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of your workout. That is roughly the equivalent of a five mile run. Climbing also helps build a significant amount of lean muscle, leading to a lower percentage of body fat.

Mental Health

    Physical activity has been linked to an increase in mental health. Exercise has shown to be an excellent mood stabilizer. Often, people with low moods or anxiety have trouble getting the motivation to exercise. However, a fun, social activity could be exactly the motivation needed to begin an exercise routine. Climbing also offers the opportunity to exercise out in nature. According to the National Institute of Health, outdoor recreation has been linked to an increase in mental health. A combination of exercise and nature can have a cumulative effect on a person’s mental well-being. Both regular and exercise and spending time in nature are correlated with a decrease in anxiety, depression, and stress.

   There are many different ways you can choose to exercise; but very few combine the fun, excitement, and full body workout of rock climbing. These elements combine to add a motivating factor to your workout, and motivation is the key to starting a permanent workout routine. A routine is key to realizing the entire range of benefits conferred by rock climbing, and exercise in general.

Join one of Denver Climbing Company’s daily classes to get started on your path of health!

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